Muleshoe track star Withrow will pursue heptathalon career at ACU

Muleshoe junior Jessica Withrow, seen here long-jumping, will compete in the heptathalon at Abilene Christian University.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

MULESHOE — Muleshoe senior Jessica Withrow never had much experience doing things like throwing a javelin, until recently. But in the changing world of track and field, Withrow will get to experience it next fall at Abilene Christian University.

Withrow committed to ACU during the early November signing period and is slated to be a heptathlete for the Wildcats. The heptathlon is similar to the 10-event decathlon, but has seven events instead.

Stephen Moore, an Abilene Christian assistant who finished fifth in the decathlon at the most recent Olympic trials, said he’s looking forward to helping Withrow develop into a multi-event track competitor.

“We think she’s that good and talented,” said Moore of Withrow’s full-ride scholarship. “We feel she can really help us.”

At Muleshoe, Withrow is a big help, too. She competes in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump and the mile relay.

Last spring, at the Class 3A state track meet, Withrow finished second in the high jump and the 300 hurdles.

Since the winners of those two events won’t be back in the field next spring, Withrow will be a favorite to take state honors in both.

Then, it’ll be off to college for the 5-foot-4 Withrow.

“I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to go Division I or Division II, but when I went down there I fell in love with the atmosphere and the Christian lifestyle,” Withrow said of Abilene Christian. “The people in the community are very nice and it just seemed like a place where I could grow not only in my track career but in my faith also.”

Before starting her senior year in Muleshoe, Withrow’s summer track schedule included one meet in Dallas where she tried a heptathlon for the first time. With the assistance of a few coaches at the event, Withrow and others were schooled on the basics of throwing competitions like the javelin and shot put — which Withrow had never attempted.

“I only had two weeks of practice, so it was kind of hard. I just went out there and threw it, but the other girls didn’t know what they were doing either,” Withrow said. “There were only four other girls in the event, so it wasn’t a big meet. But I ended up winning it. I had never done it before, but I got a pretty high score for the first time.”

At Abilene Christian, Moore is busy training to find ways to add points in his decathlon competitions. He’ll also be passing that knowledge to athletes like Withrow.