Track may not be her first love, but it’s definitely Jessica Eggleston’s current love.
The former basketball star has just begun her last and most promising season for the Cal Poly track and field team, and already has several first-place finishes under her belt.
At the team’s first meet of the season Jan. 21, Eggleston won the long and triple jumps against Fresno State, Hawaii and Cal State Stanislaus, helping the Mustangs come in first at Fresno’s newly renovated Arnold Memorial Track.
It was a decent opener, the industrial engineering senior said, but she has big plans for the rest of the season.
“I’m used to doing a lot in a small amount of time, so it’s nice to start from a base – usually I have to do everything so quickly,” said Eggleston, referring to the last four years she had to skip indoor track and go straight to outdoor track immediately after basketball season.
Although Eggleston’s eligibility for basketball ran out last year, she missed a season of track her sophomore year after she played out the basketball season with a torn meniscus. Thus, this year she is still eligible to run track and this will also be her first full track season.
“I enjoy track, so it only feels right I finish all four years,” she said.
Last season, she was the Big West Conference triple jump champion and an NCAA West Regional qualifier in that event, and also won the Big West triple jump at 40 feet, 10 « inches, earning an NCAA qualification.
She also finished sixth in the conference in the 100 hurdles, at 14.39 seconds and tied for sixth in the long jump, at 19 feet, 4 _ inches.
The Oceanside native said she thinks she can definitely make it to the regional level again and her coaches think she can make it to nationals, but she would have to start jumping more than 42 feet.
At the last meet she competed in, she won with a triple jump of 39 feet, 10 inches, and she says 42 feet is “doable.”
But her goals do not end at 42 feet.
“I want us to win a women’s outdoor championship because I don’t think we’ve done that in a while,” Eggleston said.
However, she still has basketball on the mind and in January she sent out her information to several European women’s basketball agents in hopes that she will be considered by a European team.
“I think she’ll be very successful,” said Cal Poly women’s basketball head coach Faith Mimnaugh. “Every professional team is looking for as quality of a player as Jessica. I think they’ll jump on someone like her.”
The first two-time All-Big West First Team selection in Cal Poly history, Eggleston finished her Mustangs career with 1,052 points, fourth-most in school history.
After missing just one of 110 games during her career and leading Cal Poly in scoring and rebounding her junior and senior seasons, she has served as a volunteer assistant for the women’s basketball team this season.
Mimnaugh opined that Eggleston’s added track experience stands to help her athletic prospects with European agents.
“I think her track participation will only enhance her opportunities,” she said.
Eggleston said that during her junior year she was expecting her career in basketball to end after playing the game for 12 years, but when her final collegiate season ended in 2007, she felt far from relieved.
“The fact that I can’t play at all now, it really hurts me,” she said. “Now I realize I’ll probably never stop playing basketball.”
However, just because basketball is Eggleston’s passion, she says that will not affect how well she performs this track season.
“I’ll think about basketball when I know something for sure, but right now track is my No. 1 priority,” she said.
The Cal Poly track and field team competes at the UCLA Invitational on Friday and Saturday.