Saunders makes USA team

Published 9:19 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Former Team WAR standout Sha’Keela Saunders recently earned a spot on the USA National Team after placing third in long jump.

It was a strong weekend for Saunders, as she went out to Iowa to compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Saunders was able to make the USA National Team by way of a top-three finish. She medaled for the third year in a row, taking bronze with a season-best 22’3.5″/6.79m (+1.7).

Saunders has been a part of Team USA for the past two world championships. Last year, she won the long jump. Over the course of a year, Saunders has had some very strong performances. After taking first in the USA Track and Field Outdoor championships last season, she went on to compete in multiple meets across the world. She finished 2018 ranked seventh in the world in the long jump. She turned pro after her senior campaign at Kentucky in 2017 and so far, she has seen a lot of success as a professional long jumper.

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Saunders starred at the University of Kentucky, where she was an NCAA Indoor Championships winner in the long jump. She is a 12-time NCAA Division I All-America honoree.

Along with an NCAA title, she is a two-time Southeastern Conference champion as well in the long jump. She first broke Kentucky’s school record in the long jump with 6.53 m (21 ft 5 in) in route to a first-place finish at the 2015 University of Kentucky Rod McCravy Memorial Track & Field Meet at SEC for Women’s Indoor Track and Field.

Saunders set UK’s school record in the long jump in 6.90 m (22 ft 8 in) in 2017. That performance was so big, it placed her third on the all-time collegiate indoor list.

While at Nansemond River High School, she spent much of her time ranked No. 1 in the nation in long jump in 2012. She was also a triple jump state champion for Team WAR. From there, she went on to Kentucky and has been a part of a long list of Team WAR standouts who have gone on to college and stood out there and even beyond. She helped establish Nansemond River as a powerhouse; the school won its 11th total state title this year.