West grad Sharbono ready to cut loose at NCAAs

2014-06-09T20:00:00Z 2014-06-10T15:13:01Z West grad Sharbono ready to cut loose at NCAAsBy JOE KUSEK jkusek@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A smile, a happy nod of the head. The majority of the time, that’s the most you’ll get from Jessica Sharbono.

Sharbono is not one for big outward displays of emotion.

“I’m normally shy,” she said.

So reticent is Sharbono that she still hasn’t told her college coach she wasn’t exactly enamored with his initial recruiting call.

“Maybe some day I will,” she said.

But on those special occasions, Sharbono cuts loose.

The Mountain West Conference track and field meet in May was such an occasion.

When officials announced the distance on her final discus throw – a Mountain West record 193-feet, 1-inch – Sharbono did something completely out of character.

She celebrated.

Big.

“I was jumping in the air and all over the place. I had a big smile,” said the normally reserved Sharbono. “It was exciting. My parents (Kevin and Lisa) were there along with some friends who had come up to watch me. It was pretty special.”

On her final throw, the Colorado State senior had a personal and stadium record at the University of Wyoming’s Madrid Sports Complex.

“Honestly, I don’t know where that came from,” said the 2010 Billings West graduate. “Conditions weren’t really that good. But that throw, it just felt natural. And when it feels real easy, that’s when you get a good throw like that. When I hit it, that was amazing.”

She wouldn’t mind a repeat this weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., which begin Wednesday.

“I would love to have that feeling again,” Sharbono said.

Sharbono’s Mountain West throw was among the top four nationally.

“Well, I’ve been telling myself I want to contend for a national championship,” she said. “I want to be in the top eight and be a first team All-American.”

This will be Sharbono’s second consecutive trip to the NCAA meet. A year ago, she finished 16th to earn second-team All-America honors.

“Last year, I was more nervous,” she said. “Now, I know what to expect.”

The NCAA championships are being held at Hayward Field, one of the most storied venues in track and field. It has been the site of five U.S. Olympic Trials.

“It’s really an awesome atmosphere,” said Sharbono. “You walk in and there are so many people. Usually at a college track meet there are just a few hundred. There, the stands are completely packed. It’s great to see so many people support track and field.”

Sharbono, who graduated in early May with a degree in natural resource management, stayed in Fort Collins to fine-tune her discus throwing.

Her previous best last year was 174-8. Prior to the 193-1 at Laramie, she had a career-best 189-0 at the Mt. Sac Relays in mid-April.

“The biggest difference is having confidence in my abilities,” said Sharbono, who also competed in the shot put and hammer throw for CSU during the regular season. “I always knew I was a good thrower, but I would never pick myself to go to a national competition.

“I went into meets this year, ‘I’m going to win this.’ That confidence has been kind of gradual and it started last year. Making nationals was a big part of it.”

Sharbono’s love affair with the discus began in junior high -- “There is something about watching it fly,” she said -- and continued through high school, where she was one of the top throwers in the nation. Sharbono won the prestigious Golden West meet as a sophomore and was second twice while at West High.

“I was looking at different schools,” Sharbono said of competing at the next level. “I always thought about going to Eugene (University of Oregon).

“Then coach (Brian) Bedard called and said he was coming up to see me. I was dreading it. His personality over the phone comes off a little different. I’ve never told him that. He came here and I loved him and his personality. Then I went on my visit and fell in love with the area and the team.”

But the NCAA championships isn’t Sharbono’s only meet this month. The throw in Wyoming also qualified her for the USA National meet in Sacramento, Calif.

“It’s nice I can just focus and train for the discus,” said Sharbono, who will return to Billings after the NCAA meet and begin work at Lake Elmo for the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department.

“I’m just working on the little things to get better. I’m real excited about the NCAA meet.”

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