Her freshman year, she played well on the court but struggled with the academic adjustment. Her sophomore year, she straightened out her grades, but had a freak accident before her final basketball game, breaking her arm on an attempted dunk in practice.
Finally, with her health and academics in order, she was able to join the track team midway through her junior year.
During her first event in three years, on April 21 in Fayetteville, Ark., Young entered with the expected nerves.
“She was afraid to go,” Pukstiene said. “She said, ‘I don't want to go and get made fun of by everybody.'”
With understandable rust, Young jumped only 5-foot-10, six inches shorter than her famed high school jump. It was still the second-highest in school history, easily winning the event.
From there, Young took off, setting the school jump record one week and then resetting it the next.
She either won or placed in the top five of every event the rest of the season, winning All-American honors with a 6-foot-1.5 jump at the NCAA Finals.
Now, two months after the basketball star restarted the sport, Young has a chance to make the Olympic team, competing in the high jump trials Thursday in Eugene, Ore.
“It's crazy to think I have a chance to go to the Olympics,” Young said. “I can't even really think about it. Just have to thank all my teammates and coaches for accepting me into the team.”
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