The Daily Evergreen

Jumper draws on heritage to succeed

Redshirt senior grew up in New Zealand where she developed a passion for track, competitive nature

Redshirt+senior+triple-jumper+Greer+Alsop+takes+flight+as+she+competes+in+a+qualifying+heat+at+the+Cougar+Indoor+on+Feb.+3.
Redshirt senior triple-jumper Greer Alsop takes flight as she competes in a qualifying heat at the Cougar Indoor on Feb. 3.

Redshirt senior triple-jumper Greer Alsop takes flight as she competes in a qualifying heat at the Cougar Indoor on Feb. 3.

ABBY LINNENKOHL | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

ABBY LINNENKOHL | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Redshirt senior triple-jumper Greer Alsop takes flight as she competes in a qualifying heat at the Cougar Indoor on Feb. 3.

AVERY COOPER, Evergreen reporter

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Redshirt senior triple jumper Greer Alsop has always been a competitor, whether in the classroom, on the track or in a race with her siblings.

“I think that’s where my competitiveness came from,” Alsop said. “My sister is very intelligent, and my brother is very physical. So I always wanted to be as intelligent [as] my sister but as strong as my brother.”

A desire to be better than anyone else, especially siblings, is often inherent in athletes. However, Assistant Coach Ryan Grinnell said dedication separates Alsop from most.

“She does all the little things that make a huge difference in the end,” Grinnell said.

The 23 year old comes from Invercargill, New Zealand, an area in the country where premier triple jumpers reside. Alsop said it’s partially because of Lance Smith, a Southland Girls’ High School track coach in Invercargill, who was her triple jumping coach.

Smith has connections that stem further than his coaching. Alsop said he was colleagues with the man who first used the long-jump flip technique in competition.

A current New Zealand politician, Tuariki “John” Delamere, competed for WSU track and field in the 1970s. The flip gained so much notoriety that Sports Illustrated wrote an article in 1974 called, “The Flip That Led to a Flap.”

New Zealand is full of track-and-field lore. Alsop said that growing up in the area, the heritage benefited her and drove her to do something unique, an attribute she sees in other people in the country.

ABBY LINNENKOHL | THE DAILY EVERGREEN
Senior triple-jumper Greer Alsop speaks about growing up in New Zealand and how she continually became bored with sports until she encountered track and field.

“I think it’s the idea that we want to do something a bit different and something a little bit extreme,” Alsop said. “The extreme sports get into our Kiwi spirit.”

She played multiple sports in high school, including volleyball and hockey, but track was the one that stuck with her.

“When I was growing up, I did every single sport and I got bored of every single sport in maybe like two weeks,” Alsop said. “Track and field was the first sport that I would do year after year and I was enjoying it.”

At first, she did not have a coach in track. Then Smith approached Greer’s mother, Louise Alsop, at a meet. He extended a tryout invite to Greer.

It was at the tryout that Alsop knew she would dedicate her life to track and field.

“I was warming up and Coach Lance told my mum, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got there,’ ” Alsop recalled. “ ‘You’ve got something special in track and field.’ ”

With Smith’s coaching, Alsop developed into a New Zealand national champion triple and long jumper. She was also named to New Zealand’s Olympic development squad called Rio 2016.

When she reached her junior year of high school, Alsop knew she could not continue to compete in New Zealand.

“At 16 or 17, I think I decided if I wanted to be serious with my sport, I need to go to an American university and get a scholarship,” she said.

She was recruited to Pullman by a New Zealand recruiter for WSU. Boise State University was also among the schools in competition for Alsop.

“I had Boise and I looked at the mascot and said ‘I don’t want to be a horse, I want to be a Cougar,’ ” she said.

Now in her senior season at WSU, her goal is to beat her personal record of 12.70 meters in the triple jump.

Grinnell said if Alsop can eclipse 13 meters in the triple and even get to 13.10, then she could qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June.

“She’s on the right track to end on a high note for her senior year,” Grinnell said. “I believe it’s going to line up right when we need her the most toward championship season, Pac-12’s first rounds and hopefully nationals.”

Although he said Alsop is possibly the most technically sound jumper on the team, every athlete has areas to improve on if they want to meet their goals.

“Sometimes she has the tendency to rush the landing,” Grinnell said, “so we’ve been working on patience in the air.”

Alsop said track is both a physical and mental battle. She emphasized how important it is to stay fresh for each jump, as a triple jump competition can take hours.

For her, it’s about staying in a competitive mindset before each jump.

“We have three hours to think about every little thing that we’re doing,” Alsop said. “Every jump is a new jump. You don’t carry your past into your future. I always tell myself, ‘There’s no doubt in my mind.’ ”

Regardless of the outcome of her senior season, Alsop said she will miss the environment at WSU.

“At the end of the meet we always have a group meeting and the whole team gets together and we do our chant and yell ‘Go Cougs,’ and I think that’s really special, it’s a lot of fun,” Alsop said. “It’s like one big, goofy family.”

Grinnell said the coaching staff and team will miss her, but she still has a few more months to cement her legacy at WSU before they start thinking about her departure.

“We rely on her a lot for senior leadership … It’s going to be tough to see her go because she’s been a big asset to our team,” Grinnell said. “We’re at the start of outdoors so we have a long road ahead and we want to make it to the NCAA Championships. That’s the ultimate goal.”

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Jumper draws on heritage to succeed