Feature Friday: Coombs Ready To Take The Jump

If you haven’t heard of the name Latavia Coombs yet, you will.

You know what? Before you read any further, follow these steps.

  1. Go to TFRRS.org.
  2. Check out the Women’s All-College Outdoor Descending Order List.
  3. Scroll down to the triple jump.
  4. Look for "Latavia Coombs."

You didn’t have to look too far, did you?

The All-College Descending Order List includes every program in the TFRRS database and ranks athletes based on their marks. That means athletes from NCAA Division I are billed against those from NCAA Division II, NCAA Division II, NJCAA Division I, NJCAA Division III, NAIA and finally, the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association).

Coombs, a sophomore at New Mexico Junior College, is 5th in the triple jump. She bounded a wind-legal 13.56m (44-6) at the Ross Black Open this past weekend, which smashed her prior – albeit windy – lifetime PR of 13.26m (43-6) by exactly one foot.

Coombs Leaving Her Mark

Here is the current top-5 of the Women’s All-College Outdoor Descending Order List as it pertains to the triple jump.
Name Program Division Mark
Yanis David Florida NCAA DI 13.78m (45-2½)
Iana Amsterdam Clemson NCAA DI 13.68m (44-10¾)
Shardia Lawrence Kansas State NCAA DI 13.66m (44-9¾)
Amber Hughes Tennessee State NCAA DI 13.62m (44-8¼)
Latavia Coombs New Mexico JC NJCAA DI 13.56m (44-6)

To put this in perspective, if Coombs recorded that mark at any of the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, she would have won the NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III event titles and placed 4th at the NCAA Division I meet in Eugene, Oregon.

That’s why Coombs should be on your radar for the remainder of the year. If not, she’ll open a lot of eyes next year when she’s a member of the University of Kentucky track & field team.

“We started recruiting her as a freshman and quickly realized she had a lot of potential,” Kentucky head coach Edrick Floŕeal said. “You’re starting to see her tap into that and it’s exciting. She’s going to be a star one day.”

Coombs, a native of St. Catherine, Jamaica, is already a juggernaut at the JUCO level.

Back in March at the 2017 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, Coombs scored 34 points by herself to lead the Thunderbirds to a national title. Coombs competed 10 times over the span of two days – five times in the pentathlon (in which she placed 2nd), twice in the 60 hurdles (2nd) and once in the triple jump (1st), long jump (3rd) and high jump (t-6th), respectively.

“Prior to putting in our entries for nationals, we sat down and talked about things and she told me, ‘Coach, I want to do everything I can to help win us the title,’” New Mexico Junior College head coach Keith Blackwill said. “It was a very close meet (T-Birds won by 4 points) and every point mattered for us. For her to be able to go into that kind of environment with that number of events and do how she did is a testament to her mental toughness and competitive fire.”

Blackwill wasn’t the only coach impressed by Coombs’ performance.

“It was just incredible to watch her do it against a class field,” Floŕeal said. “It wasn’t like she was doing it at a conference meet or region meet. She went up against the best of the best and was beating people bad and hurting their feelings.”

What did Coombs think? Was she exhausted after she wrapped up the open high jump, which proved to be her final event of the proceedings?

“I was extra, extra happy,” said Coombs, who was named 2017 USTFCCCA NJCAA Indoor Female Field Athlete of the Year. “I felt like I could do more events.”

Coombs will have her chance come May 18-20 at the 2017 NJCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Hutchinson, Kansas. Right now Coombs is qualified for six events – 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, high jump, long jump, triple jump and heptathlon – but said she’d prefer to focus on three: 100 hurdles, long jump and triple jump. It just so happens those three events are the ones Floŕeal – or “Papa Flo,” as Coombs calls him – told her she’d specialize in when she arrives on campus.

Then again, Coombs did whatever it took indoors for New Mexico Junior College to win the team title, so what would competing 14 times matter if it meant leading her team – the current No. 1 squad in the latest NJCAA DI Women’s Outdoor Track & Field National Team Computer Rankings – to the indoor-outdoor sweep?

“Tay (Latavia) is the type of athlete you want on your team,” Floŕeal said. “She can do six or seven events and be competitive in them all. But the best thing about her is that it’s not all about her out there. She wants to do well for the team. You want a team full of Tays. I’m glad we signed the one, though. She’s going to be special.”