Two years ago, when Seville Broussard took part in her first collegiate long-jump competition, her right knee protested violently.
The result was an injury that required reconstructive surgery and countless hours of agonizing rehabilitation.
Last weekend, when Seville Broussard took part in her first collegiate 400-meter hurdles race, it was the Eastern Washington University record book that needed reconstruction.
Broussard’s time of 59.92 seconds broke the school record by nearly a second and was good enough for third place at the Stanford Invitational. It was also within .02 seconds of the time she’ll need to become a provisional qualifier for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.
Knee injury? There was one?
“It’s doing pretty well,” said Broussard, a redshirt sophomore and 1994 graduate of Walla Walla High School. “I just have to keep telling myself, my knee’s OK, my knee’s OK, my knee’s OK.”
In that regard, the Stanford meet may have been a psychological breakthrough. If nothing else, succeeding in the 400 hurdles proved Broussard is once again capable of competing nationally.
“Her future is in that event,” EWU coach Stan Kerr said. “With her ability to maintain that kind of speed - I mean, she runs a 59 and really has no clue what she is doing yet - she can possibly be an All-American in that event.”
Before Broussard could run her 59.92, however, she had to get over an imposing hurdle - her nerves.
“Coming from a small town and a small school, it can be kind of intimidating,” she said. “You know, people were walking around in their Notre Dame jackets and their Georgetown jackets, and here I am from Eastern Washington.”
The anxiety only escalated as race time approached, and with good reason.
“We did (the 400 hurdles) in practice one day and I didn’t do so well,” she said. “I had a little asthma attack because I get excited - then when you start running that hard for that long, it’s all, ‘game over.’
“Breathing-wise, I did really well at Stanford. It didn’t start until I was over the last hurdle and didn’t have very much longer to go, so it was OK.”
Broussard should be able to breathe a little easier this weekend, when EWU travels to Washington State for Saturday’s Cougar Invitational. She’s the favorite in the 400 hurdles and should have an easier time in the high jump now that WSU’s Francesca Green has been sidelined by a sprained foot.
An accomplished high jumper coming out of high school - Broussard cleared 5-11-1/4 shortly after arriving at EWU she hasn’t gone higher than 5-8 since the injury. She’ll need to clear 5-10 for any chance at nationals.
It’s a reasonable aspiration, considering Broussard’s dramatic progress. As recently as one year ago, she could barely clear 5-2. Then came 5-4 and, finally, a more respectable 5-8.
“Fortunately, it’s not her jumping knee, so when she gets into the high jump, there’s no holding back and it doesn’t even enter her mind,” Kerr said “She feels confident that her knee is not going to give out on her approach.
“She’s ready to go after it. She’s tired of jumping 5-8, she tells me.”
Injuries weaken field
Injuries will prevent several top performers from competing in the Cougar Invitational.
Green is expected to miss at least two weeks, and WSU also is without decathlete Leo Slack and high jumper Chris Mosley.
Slack aggravated a shoulder injury this week at the Fresno State Decathlon and is out indefinitely. Mosley, who tweaked a patellar tendon while clearing a career-best 7-0-1/2 at last month’s Vandal Indoor, may end up redshirting.
Idaho will compete without sprinter Tawanda Chiwira, who continues to be plagued by a hip injury suffered during the indoor season. Chiwira is a provisional qualifier in the men’s 400.
WSU junior Hilary Mawindi, who won the men’s triple jump at Stanford and is a provisional NCAA qualifier, is finding competition from an unlikely source - freshman teammate Demetrius Murray, a walk-on from Tacoma. Murray has triple-jumped 51-7-1/4 this season, just 1 inch shy of the provisional standard… . WSU senior Heidi Shultz set Fresno State meet and field records with a 2:16.72 in the heptathlon 800. The record time helped give Shultz 5,075 points, the exact number needed for provisional qualifiers. The 800 was the final event and boosted her to second place… . Idaho’s Frank Bruder, a business administration major, was named 1997 Big West Conference male scholar-athlete of the year. He is a provisional qualifier in the steeplechase and 5,000… . After the disappointment of not making the indoor nationals, WSU sophomore Ian Waltz has swept the throws in two straight meets.
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