Q&A with Track and Field Junior Barrett Saunders

April 11, 2007


Recently, junior Barrett Saunders sat down with the Kansas media relations staff to discuss the ongoing outdoor track and field season. Saunders is now the national leader in the long jump after leaping 25-10 (7.87m) to win the section B men’s long jump at the Texas Relays. While some might expect the lofty performance to provide extra pressure, Saunders has gained tremendous confidence from his effort as the outdoor season continues.

Q: Can you describe your winning jump at the Texas Relays?
A: Heading into the finals, I was leading and was feeling pretty comfortable. Then a student-athlete from Arkansas passed me and that got the adrenaline pumping again. On my fifth jump, I felt like it was pretty good, but I fouled, so I knew that if I could get the last jump in it would be pretty good.

My approach down the runway on my sixth jump was pretty good and once I hit the board and turned back and saw the white flag, I knew it was far enough to win. I didn’t know how far it was because it honestly did not feel as good as the one before did. As I was walking back, the officials were measuring at the board and I saw eight meters somewhere near the board, so I knew it was a good jump. When I heard it was 7.87 meters, I was pretty excited.

Q: What is your thought process before you make an attempt?
A: It depends on what you need to focus on. A few jumpers ahead, I might focus on what I did wrong on my previous jump that I need to correct. As you get closer to your place, I may keep thinking about that, but as soon as you are up on the runway all that pretty much goes out of my head. I just focus on getting a good approach and taking off. If you are worried about any techniques when you are on the runway, it is going to throw off your jump.

Q: What have learned working under Coach Milan Donley?
A: I have learned a lot working with Coach Donley. Coming out of high school, I really didn’t know too much about the long jump. I was good at it in high school, but I did not know too much about the technical aspect of the event. When I first got here, Coach Donley completely changed my running form, which helped me with my distance. We’ve been working on my long jump form and he’s taught me a lot of technical things I needed to know to become a successful jumper.

Q: What are the differences between the long jump and the triple jump?
A: It wouldn’t seem like they are that different, but they are two completely different events. The long jump is just a sprint and one long jump. It has its technical aspects, but the triple jump provides far more technical knowledge. You have to focus on each aspect of the triple jump; you might have a good hop, but then you could also have a bad fade on the same attempt. You have to work on each aspect which I think makes the triple jump more difficult. I also think the triple jump takes more of a toll on your body.

Q: How did it feel to be named Co-Big 12 Track and Field Athlete of the Week?
A: It is an honor and big accomplishment not only for me, but it reflects well on my team and the group I train with every day.

Q: Who do you look to among your group for help with your performance?
A: When I first came here, Charisse Bacchus was also here and she has helped me a lot. She is still around a lot today and has always been very helpful in training.

Q: How do you feel heading into the Kansas Relays?
A: Anytime you get a chance to compete in front of the home fans, especially coming off a big jump, is a great thing. I hope I can do it again so the Jayhawks fans can see it and not just hear about it.

Q: Do you feel any added pressure because of your recent success?
A: I wouldn’t say any pressure has been added to me. If anything, I would say I have more confidence. Once you get that jump out there, you stop thinking about if and when it will happen. Now, I just want to keep jumping further because I have a lot more confidence.

Q: Who do you look to for leadership and guidance?
A: I would definitely say my father. He was my first coach and has been a big influence in my career. I definitely turn to him if I ever have any questions or need to talk about anything.

Q: What would you like to do when your time at Kansas is over?
A: Hopefully, I continue to get better and keep competing outdoors. One of my goals is to compete in the Olympics and I hope to keep working towards that.

Q: What track and field events do you like to watch and what would you like to try?
A: My favorites to watch are the 100 and 110-meter hurdles. Growing up I was a hurdler as well as a jumper, so I enjoy watching those races especially. I would really like to try throwing the hammer. It looks like it is pretty fun to spin around in a circle and throw the hammer.

Q: How does competing in sprints help you in the long jump?
A: They work together a lot of times in my training. A large portion of my training for the long jump is sprinting. When you are a sprinter and a jumper, it helps you in both because sprinting down the runway helps you sprint down the track. On the track, sprinting helps you think about your approach in the long jump, so they pretty much go hand-in-hand.

Q: What are your goals for this weekend’s John Jacobs Invitational in Oklahoma?
A: I just want to continue jumping well and like any track meet, you compete to win, so I’d like to try and keep the momentum going.