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    TIM PEELER: Washington Leaps Into NC State Record Books
     
     

    BY TIM PEELER

     

    RALEIGH, N.C. When DeMiracle Washington was young, her passion was gymnastics. It was the perfect sport to allow her to use her athletics ability and gracefulness and a great activity to keep her out of trouble.

     

    But Washington who first name comes from the fact that her blended-family parents didn’t think they would ever have kids together suffered a double blow at the age of 13. Not only did her father, Luke Washington III, pass away after an extended battle with prostate cancer, but her family suffered some financial hardship.

     

    And one of the things her mother, Brenda Williams Washington, had to cut from the family budget were expensive gymnastics lessons.

     

    “That kind of broke my heart, just like losing my dad,” Washington said. “Gymnastics was my first love. After that, I had to pick another sport and I chose track.”

     

    Not only were running and jumping free, but track was a family tradition. Washington’s dad was a middle school and high school sprinter in South Carolina and her mother was a long jumper and middle distance runner in New Jersey. Brenda Williams actually had scholarship offers to run track, but opted not to go to college.

     

    Running was in her blood, even at an early age.

     

    “I would always race my dad up the street or down the street, and I was always jumping over something. We were always playing baseball as a family. Sports was something we were always doing.”

     

    Soon after her father passed away, Washington joined her middle school track team. She did okay, but track and field was only a seasonal sport, something to occupy her spring from the end of the winter concert season and summer band camp. Washington is an accomplished clarinet player and spent much of her time in middle school and high school playing for various musical groups.

     

    She didn’t exactly live and breathe the long jump and the triple jump, even though she had some success, finishing third at the state track meet in the triple as a junior and second as a senior. She was often injured in high school, but showed enough potential to attract attention of college recruiters from Rutgers, Oklahoma, Winthrop, Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina.

     

    She eventually opted to attend Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., competing for two years for the Big South Conference school. But after two seasons, she believed she could compete at a higher level and started looking around for a new home. Wolfpack track coach Rollie Geiger was eager to offer her a scholarship and start her working with assistant coach Chris Coleman.

     

    “I wish I would have recruited her out of high school,” Geiger said. “We made a mistake on the front end in not recruiting her to begin with. Thank goodness we recovered from our mistake.”

     

    In a big way: Washington was a consistent performer as a junior, finishing in the top 10 of three events at the ACC Indoor and Outdoor meets. In her first NCAA Regional, Washington finished 31st in the triple jump with a leap of 38 feet, 10 inches.

     

    This year, however, Washington won long jump at the ACC Indoor Championships with a leap of 20 feet, 1 inches, the first long-jump title in the history of NC State women's track and field. She was also fourth at the ACC Outdoor Championships.

     

    Three weeks ago, in a warm-up for today’s NCAA Southeast Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., Washington posted personal bests in both the triple and the long jump, with a school-record leap of 20-feet, 5 inches, beating her previous personal best by nearly half a foot.

     

    Her triple jump of 41 feet, 9 inches is the second longest jump in school history and ranks fourth among ACC athletes this season.

     

    “She has been outstanding in a number of ways for our program,” Geiger said. “She came in and won an ACC Championship in the long jump and has the school record in both the long jump and the triple jump. She is probably the best female jumper we have ever had in our program.”

     

    It’s been a successful career for Washington, especially considering that she never had dreams of going to college let alone two in the first place.

     

    “It really wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I thought about doing track in college or even going to college,” Washington said. “I wasn’t sure my mom could really afford it and I wasn’t all that interested in it.”

    But now she has her sights on finishing up her degree in Spanish she is on track to graduate in December. She may try to become a professional track and field athlete, but eventually sees herself going into health care or business.

     

    “Getting a degree from NC State will mean a great deal to me,” Washington said. “My mom regrets that she never went. I made a promise to her that I would graduate from college after my father passed.

     

    “I’ll be the first from my immediate family to graduate from college, and I think that is a great accomplishment. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to grow as much as I have the last three or four years if I hadn’t gone to college and gotten away from home for awhile.”

     

    And, though she still misses gymnastics every now and then, she’s learned to love what she is doing now.

     

    “Track is a passion of mine,” she said.

     

    You may contact Tim Peeler at tim_peeler@ncsu.edu.


     

     

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