It’s a tall order for UC Davis sprinter Ashley Marshall, but the Aggie junior hopes her second straight trip to the NCAA women’s track and field nationals yields at least All-American status.
Marshall, a sociology major from Moreno Valley, qualified for the big meet by posting an 11.47 in the 100-meter regional gathering in Arkansas last month. She also holds the Aggie women’s 100-meter record at 11.34.
Marshall got to Fayetteville thanks to winning the Big West Conference sprint crown. She also captured the league’s 200, but finished a non-qualifying 18th at the regionals.
Marshall will waste no time on her trip to Eugene, Oregon. Her prelim in the 100 is scheduled for Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. Succeed there and she’ll run in the finals on Friday.
But the diminutive (she admits to being 5-foot-2 1/4) flash believes her experience at the NCAAs last year will serve her well this time around.
“I think there’s more pressure this year,” Marshall told The Enterprise. “However, I was able to see what it takes. My goal is to make it to the final day (eight qualify from semifinal heats) … place in the top eight so I can become All-American.”
Marshall will have to be quick about it. Top qualifier Remona Burchell (Alabama) got to Oregon with an 11.03.
The eighth-best time among qualifiers is 11:32. Marshall understands the challenge:
“What I have to do is execute. If I do what I’ve been doing in practice, there is no reason why I shouldn’t make finals. Yeah, just go out and execute, focus on what I’ve been learning.”
Marshall finished third in the CIF state meet as a senior at Rancho Verde High. Despite a handful of injuries during her prep career, Aggie head coach Drew Wartenburg and then-sprint mentor Kimberly Graham-Miller saw Marshall’s talent shine through.
In the past two seasons, Rahn Sheffield has worked closely with Marshall, adjusting her powerful style to pay further dividends.
“I still feel like I’m learning how to run all over again,” Marshall says, talking about the different coaching styles of Sheffield and Graham-Miller. “Off the block you want to be in the right position, and from there there’s different stages of the race.”
Being the shortest competitor in the women’s 100 (although Burchell is only 5-4), Marshall relies on a powerful start to put her in the lead. From there…
“Acceleration — and you can only hold that for a certain amount of time, like 60 meters. Whoever is able to hold their positioning, or form, the best from there is going to win the race.”
Marshall, who fought through two pulled hamstrings in high school, has stayed healthy at UCD. She’d like to run internationally upon graduation.
Dad Anthony is a caterer, born in Barbados. Mom Cheryl is an investment counselor who hails from Trinidad-Tobago. Marshall says if running for Team USA doesn’t work out, she’ll seek dual citizenship and hope to compete for one of her parents’ countries. (Neither Cheryl nor Anthony have track backgrounds.)
“I just want to keep running,” she says.
Together, with Raquel Lambdin in the 1,500 meters, the Aggie banner will fly high at the University of Oregon.
“The goal each season is to have athletes performing on the highest possible level — and presence at the NCAA meet is something that will become an expected and attainable objective for all the top athletes in our program,” Wartenburg believes.
“(Raquel) and Ashley are two of many success stories this spring, and we have a number of their teammates that shared the same hope of qualifying for the national meet, which means we can celebrate the achievements of these two while also knowing that the potential for more exists within our ranks.”
Notes: On Saturday night, Marshall received the Dr. Hubert Heitman Award as the outstanding female athlete at UCD. … In taking the Big West 200, Marshall came from behind and used a mighty lunge to join two other competitors at the wire — immediately after which she took a hard tumble. After a review of video from the finish, Marshall was declared the winner and the fall’s pain vanished. … Brother Marcus is a film-studies graduate of UC Santa Barbara. … Off the track and out of the classroom, Marshall is just fine with attending a movie or watching TV: “Sometime to relax.” … Long Beach State, San Diego State, Cal Poly and Sacramento State were among the schools recruiting Marshall out of high school. So why Davis? “I really like the city and wanted to go to a UC school,” she recalls. “And I liked Coach Kim a lot and she felt she could take me to the next level.” … Graham-Miller is now an assistant at Illinois. … In 2013, Marshall’s 11.45 was 0.11 from making the national finals (and All-American).