Ramsey’s shining moments pay off through patience

Senior shot put thrower Jessica Ramsey practices on Tuesday WKU’s Track and Field Complex. (Jeff Brown/HERALD)

Jonah Phillips

Coming out of high school, Jessica Ramsey wasn’t ready to develop her talents at the Division-I level. She knew good things would come to those who were patient.

Ramsey was patient, and now she stands as the nation’s third-best shot putter for the WKU track and field team.

“I didn’t want to go into the big environment and heavy competition because I didn’t feel like I was ready,” Ramsey said.

Instead, the Boynton Beach, Fla., native chose to attend South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, as a stepping stone for her career.

“Going to South Plains I think really helped mold me and prepare me,” she said. 

Since her move to the Hill in December of 2012, Ramsey has quickly established herself as the best female thrower in WKU history.

She most recently shattered her own personal record, as well as a WKU and Sun Belt Conference record this past weekend at the Florida Relays in the shot put with a launch of 55-feet-7-inches.

Coach Erik Jenkins had Ramsey on his radar when she was in high school and followed her even onto South Plains College. Jenkins and throws coach Ashley Duncan both agree that had more time in a D-I program, her marks would exceed what she’s already accomplished.

“It was more of a mental shift (from junior college to D-I),” Jenkins said. “The discipline of being in our program, being ready to go out and throw every weekend, and understanding that we have a team mandate that we needed to follow.

“Physically, she had all the raw tools; there is no doubt about that. Coach Duncan has done an excellent job of taking a very talented athlete and continuing to mold her.”

Ramsey’s 55-foot-7-inch personal record and third place national ranking falls just two feet short of Duncan’s personal record.

Duncan believes that if Ramsey had more time in a D1 program, her marks would be even higher.

“I compare her to myself because in many ways she reminds me of myself—I actually think she is a lot more talented than I am, but where she is technically was where I was probably my sophomore year,” Duncan said. “She just doesn’t have the throws under her belt or the training or time to implement them, and the things I want to do with her technically I think would have just been easier given more time.”

Duncan attributes this to the massive jumps in her success in such a short amount of time.

“This is the first time she has been in a sophisticated training program,” Duncan said. “When I was throwing the numbers she was throwing, my college coach and I could see that I was close to reaching my potential. Jessica is nowhere near her top potential yet.”

Ramsey’s most recent accolades include being named the Women’s Most Outstanding Field Performer for the second time in back-to-back indoor championship meets after capturing shot put and weight throw titles at the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in February.

She was named the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Field Athlete of the Week in four of the six weeks it was awarded during the 2013-14 indoor season.

Yet Ramsey’s time is quickly drawing to an end at WKU, begging the question of what kind of future track has in Ramsey’s future.

“My number one goal is getting my degree,” Ramsey said, “but I really want to go back to nationals and hopefully make Olympic trials.”

Ramsey describes making Olympic trials as one of her biggest dreams, and maintains that she will continue to rigorously train after graduation.

“I really want to go pro,” Ramsey said, “I really want to throw for Adidas so not only have I been working hard to get an A or B standard to qualify for Olympic Trials but I have also been looking into what standards I have to meet to compete for them.”