Every time Texas A&M jumper Deborah Acquah entered Gilliam Indoor Stadium on Saturday, she glanced upward at the giant action shots of school record holders Yasmine Regis and Adrien Sawyers.
After just two jumps in the women’s triple jump at the Charlie Thomas Invitational, Acquah realized her photo would take the place of both Aggies after this season.
On her second jump of the day, the junior from Ghana leaped 45 feet, 2 1/4 inches to break Yasmine Regis’ record by 10 inches. Acquah’s jump of 13.77 meters also broke the Ghanan indoor record of 13.49 meters set by Nadia Eke on March 4, 2016.
“I’ve always been watching,” Acquah said of the record-breaking photos hanging in Gilliam Indoor Stadium. “I used to think it was pretty far [away for me] to go that far, but after my first [jump], I was like, ‘I know I can do this.’”
Hampered by a fractured lower back suffered in 2018, Acquah has not participated in the triple jump since the 2017 NJCAA nationals at Western Texas, where she placed second with a jump of 42-4. In an effort to keep her healthy, her practice regimen had been mostly restricted to long jumping, assistant coach Sean Brady said. On Saturday, she took her first triple jumps at A&M, practice or competition.
“I was kind of scared until I did my first jump and felt really good,” Acquah said.
The plan for Acquah was to take one jump and stop, so she wouldn’t compete in the event for the first time at the upcoming Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships. And Brady said he was ready to end Acquah’s day after a successful first jump of over 44 feet, but Acquah convinced him to let her attempt one more.
“She begged me for one more, and I’m glad that she did, because the school record and 45 feet is incredible,” Brady said, adding that he didn’t need much persuading. “She was so clean on the first one that she didn’t have to twist the arm very hard.”
While Acquah reintroduced herself to the triple jump in record fashion, sophomore jumper CJ Stevenson won the men’s triple jump in the next lane. His jump of 49-7 narrowly edged Cincinnati’s Sam Meece for the victory.
While a victory is a quality achievement, head coach Pat Henry said Stevenson still needs to show growth in the Aggies’ two meets before the SEC indoor meet.
“He’s staying consistent, but to score in the conference you’re going to have to jump 51 feet,” Henry said. “Forty-nine feet won’t get it done. It’s good to see him win an event here, but it’s not a very good field here today.”
Focused on winning his own event, Stephenson said he had to stop and watch Acquah make her record-setting jump.
“I’ve never seen anything like that. She’s the best,” Stephenson said. “She doesn’t train in triple jump. I train with her every day, and she never does anything. To come out here and get 45 feet, that’s amazing. You don’t see that. People aren’t built like that. She’s different.”
With Acquah’s efforts, the Aggie women’s team took the team title with 140 points, well ahead of second place Georgia Tech with 82. A&M men’s squad finished second with 123 behind Houston’s 146.
Helping the Aggie women’s cause were Kaylah Robinson winning the 60-meter hurdles and Brittany Parker winning the 800. Robinson finished in a personal-best 8.27 seconds to beat Georgia Tech’s Taylor Grimes (8.32) and A&M teammate Kennedy Smith (8.33).
Parker claimed her title with ease, winning the race by just under two seconds in 2:09.02.
NOTES — Twenty-one Aggies set personal records Saturday, including five in the mile. Jon Bishop’s 4:07.77 was good enough for third in the men’s mile and led the Aggies in the event. ... A&M’s Tyra Gittens won the pentathlon with 4276 points on Friday. ... Former A&M sprinter Donavan Brazier set the American indoor track record in the men’s 800 in 1:44.22 at the NYRR Millrose Games in New York City on Saturday.