July 1, 2016
Simone Charley’s upcoming whirlwind road trip will last about two weeks.
The memories are certain to last a lifetime.
Temporarily trading her black-and-gold uniform for some red, white and blue apparel, Charley — the All-American triple jumper from Hoover, Ala. — is soon to embark on a two-stop journey that begins in Eugene and ends in El Salvador.
Charley, who recently completed a record-making and decorated junior season at Vanderbilt, has earned an invite to the U.S. Olympic Trails. She will travel to Eugene, Ore., this weekend to begin a week-long stay in “Track Town, U.S.A.”
The following week, Charley will be on the road again, this time traveling to San Salvador, El Salvador to represent the U.S. at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Under-23 Championships.
“Just having the opportunity to chase some of the dreams that I’ve had since I was a little girl is just — wow, it’s hard to believe,” said Charley. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself, and say, this is really happening. … The (USA) gear came in the mail last week, and when I was trying it on, I was just like, oh my gosh, this is real.” (See below for full interviews with Charley, head coach Steve Keith and associate head coach Clark Humphrey.)
Charley is one of two Vanderbilt athletes to qualify for the Olympic trials this summer. Jennifer Edobi, a standout in the 400, is competing in the trials in Nigeria on July 7-8. (Full release on Edobi coming later this afternoon).
The U.S. Olympic Trials run from July 1 through July 10, and Charley will compete in the preliminaries on July 4. (“How’s that for a great way to celebrate Independence Day?” said associate head coach Clark Humphreys.) If she advances to the finals, Charley will compete again on July 7.
She will then travel to El Salvador to compete at the NACAC championships, which run July 15-17. Charley is one of the two triple-jumpers on the U.S. roster.
“Basically, during these next few weeks, she will be competing against many of the ladies who are ranked in the Top-30 in the world,” said Humphreys. “But when the pressure is on, Simone rises up. She has done that throughout her career, and I don’t expect to see anything different in the weeks ahead.”
Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith agreed that Charley has a knack for being at her best when the stakes are the highest.
“It’s what I call the championship mentality,” said Keith. “It’s the ability to focus and block things out — and to be able to relax at the same time. Those are characteristics that Simone has. It’s what has gotten her this far.”
Humphreys noted that Charley will have plenty of familiar company in El Salvador, where she’ll join a U.S. roster that is dotted with SEC representatives.
“It’s kind of like a Who’s Who of the SEC,” said Humphreys. “It really says a lot about the SEC to see that many names on the list.”
As her coach, Humphreys has had a first-hand view of Charley’s incredible work ethic, which has helped fuel her rise to the elite level and has prepared her for these two prestigious events.
“With Simone, you are talking about someone who has improved by more than three feet since high school,” said Humphrey. “She is someone who has just continued to develop, steadily, in her career — and these upcoming two meets could potentially be two more big steps in her development.”
Here’s a closer look at the two meets:
Dates: July 1-10
Triple Jump schedule: July 4, qualifying l July 7, finals
Host: University of Oregon
Site: Eugene, Oregon
Meet schedule: HERE
Start Lists: HERE
Live Results: HERE
Full viewing schedule: HERE & HERE
CHARLEY’S CAREER TO DATE:
2016 Outdoor: First Team All-American; finished second at the NCAA Championships
2016 Indoor: First Team All-American; finished second at the NCAA Championships
2015 Outdoor: First Team All-American; finished third at NCAA Championships
2015 Indoor: First-Team All-American; finished fourth at NCAA Championships
2014 Outdoor: Second Team All-American; finished ninth at the NCAA Championships