Strong start bodes well for Rock senior

Published by adviser, Author: Cody Nespor - Assistant Sports Editor, Date: January 27, 2016
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Despite being named a first team All-American at the completion of the 2015 season, women’s track and field standout Ashley West is not changing her approach during the 2016 season.
West, a senior high jumper from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, attended Pine-Richland High School in Pittsburgh before beginning her collegiate career at Slippery Rock in 2012. West had attended camps at SRU previously, so the familiarity she had with the coaching staff helped sway her decision.
SRU head coach John Papa said West has become a team leader on and off the field.
“Ashley’s a leader in many areas. Obviously she’s a leader in performance as she does extremely well in an important event,” Papa said. “She’s also a great leader in terms of work ethic and doing the little things. She’s really matured and realized that continued success takes hard work and effort.”
West has showed up big in her first three seasons at The Rock, asserting herself as one of the best jumpers in the entire Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
In her first year at Slippery Rock, West was invited to both the indoor and outdoor PSAC Championships as well as the NCAA Division II outdoor National Championship. She placed second during indoor and third during outdoor at the PSAC Championships and went on to finish 18th at nationals.
West was again invited to the conference Championships in her sophomore year, this time taking third place at the indoor competition and second in the outdoor circuit.
Unsurprisingly, West returned to the PSAC championships in 2014-15 and was also invited to return to the national competition. She finished in second at both conference competitions and improved to eighth place at nationals. The top ten finish at the National Championships secured West a spot on the 2015 NCAA All-American first-team.
Heading into her senior year at The Rock, West is still looking for improvement.
“It’s a new season. Last season was last season and this one you have to do better,” West said. “Since it’s the last season, I’m thinking go hard or go home so I’m going for (personal) records and just to jump higher.”
One of the things that has eluded West throughout her career is a conference title. Papa thinks this is something Ashley is striving for.
“There are a lot of good high jumpers in our conference, but I definitely think she’s going to be trying to win the title,” Papa said. “Ashley’s been very consistent at a very high level and I think she can take her game to a whole new level.”
Through two meets in the 2015-16 indoor season, West has already won the high jump event and hit the NCAA provisional qualifying mark for the high jump both times.
“I’m hoping (early success this season) will continue,” West said. “But you still have to try hard so you can maintain everything.”
While a invitation to return to the national stage may be on the horizon for Ashley, she is taking her senior year one day at a time just like she has done for her entire career.

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