Baylor sophomore Cion Hicks still has two full seasons of NCAA eligibility ahead of her, but she does not want to put up with any talk of her not having pressure or looking forward to next year.
Even though she’s young, the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships are another competition and she’s competing to win, just like any other meet she’s participated in.
“A lot of people tell me ‘Well, you’re just a sophomore, this is great, do it,’ but I’m still coming out here to compete,” Hicks said. “I’m coming out here to fight, I’m coming out with my teammates and it’s going to be a battle no matter what.
“I’m not coming out here to sit around.”
Hicks begins competition in the Women’s Shot Put at 5:40 p.m. at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The ESPN Networks will televise the NCAA Championship meet.
Hicks qualified for the national meet for the first time in her career and despite all of the recent rainfall making practice more uncomfortable, she has been vigorously preparing for the event.
“I’m ecstatic right now,” Hicks said. “It’s a blessing just to be here and be able to compete with the best of the best knowing that you are among the best of the best.”
Hicks was a four-year letterman at Shoemaker in both track and basketball, the Class 5A state runner-up in both throwing events as a junior in 2012 and a state champion in the shot put and discus as a senior in 2013.
Hicks won those title at Myers Stadium in Austin and she returned to that venue for the NCAA West Preliminaries last month where she would compete in both throwing events.
She put up a distance of 163 feet, 7 inches in the discus and had one final opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the shot put.
“The discus didn’t go that well and that really put a damper on my spirit and everything,” Hicks said. “Going into the next day and shot put, I had to realize that all the work I put in the whole year, the goals that I had at the beginning of the year, I had to come out swinging. I had to realize that if I didn’t do what I was supposed to, I was going to go home.”
The stage wasn’t too big for Hicks as she threw a distance of 52-4.5 to leapfrog much of the field. That throw helped her go from 17th to eighth place and qualify for the biggest meet of the year.
“Pressure can either bring out the good in someone or the bad in someone,” Hicks said. “I had my parents in the stands, I had my coach sitting there in the stands, I had my teammates around me everywhere. Them looking at me, knowing that they battled to get to nationals and some punched their ticket, that’s what made me reach deep down inside. They were counting on me to get to Oregon, to Eugene to fight with them so I couldn’t let this be my last battle.”
But even after her throw, the stress wasn’t over. Hicks was still a borderline qualifier and the rest of the regional qualifiers didn’t finish throwing so she had to wait for about five minutes to find out if she made it to the next meet.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Hicks said about finding out about advancing. “Brianna Richardson was there jumping and screaming, Raena Rhone, Ashley Fields, all the people that have been running and practicing with me were there so it was nice. It was like a big party afterwards, but afterward you get back to business.”
Hicks is one of 24 participants going for the NCAA Shot Put Championship and had the 18th best qualifying distance. She will be throwing in the first flight of the event with the top nine performers advancing to the event’s finals.