Alyx Treasure rose to the occasion in the Texas heat.
She cleared the high jump bar at 1.82 metres at the NCAA West Preliminaries Friday night in Austin, Texas, succeeding in all four attempts in the competition, good enough to finish tied for first out of 48 jumpers. That qualifies the 23-year-old from Prince George for the Division 1 NCAA outdoor championships June 10-13 in Eugene, Ore.
"That was a relief," said Treasure.
"The way it works is they raise the bar up until only 12 people are left, and the last 12 people get to go to NCAAs. So I only had to jump four bars to get to go to finals.
"Last time I was here, in my freshman year, I wasn't feeling good and had issues with my body, so I was a little nervous coming back to a place where I didn't make NCAAs. I feel like I've grown out of the NCAA at this point, I've done everything, so I don't get too excited or nervous about things. It was kind of good to get some nerves for once, it probably helped."
Treasure finished tied for second last year at the NCAA outdoor finals and she's hoping the pressure of trying to beat the best U.S. college jumpers will help her top her personal record of 1.89 m, set last year at the Canadian championships in Moncton, N B.
After placing 12th at the NCAA indoor championships in March in Fayetteville, Ark., Treasure moved outdoors and reeled off first-place results at the Brutus Hamilton Challenge and Rock Chalk Classic, jumping 1.84m at each meet. She also placed second at the Sun Angel Classic and fourth at the Big 12 championships.
Last year she won five of nine NCAA outdoor meets.
"(1.84m) is my best this year, I've kind of been sticking in that area," said the former Prince George Track and Field Club member.
"I've had a pretty rocky season, things haven't come together as quickly as I'd like, but I have a long summer season so it's not that too big of a rush to start jumping PRs yet. Hopefully the next meet I will jump a PR and start progressing from there."
Treasure's Kansas State University teammates Akela Jones and Kim Williamson, both finished in a tie for third at the NCAA preliminaries and the three Wildcats will be going for gold in Eugene.
Treasure had to make a choice between the FISU World Universiade Games in South Korea or the Pan Am Games in Toronto and has elected to stay put in Canada.
The Pan Am Games high jump competition is on July 25, three weeks after the Canadian track and field championships in Edmonton, July 2-5.
Athletics Canada has stated it won't fund travel costs for both the Pan Am Games and Universiade and athletes have to pick one over the other.
Had Treasure chosen Universiade, she would miss out on a chance to defend her Canadian title, which also would rule out competing on home soil in her first large-scale international meet.
"FISU is so far away and I think the competition will be a bit less of a high level than Pan Ams and the travel will be less and the training will be better for me," said Treasure.
"I'm trying to make standards for the Olympics, hopefully this year. That's the plan and I want to give myself the best shot so I need to be training without taking big breaks for travel. The Pan Ams will be my first senior competition at home and my first meet out of college competing for Canada, so I think everything will be shifted to a new outlook for me.
"It's on a way larger platform than I've ever been on before."
The Olympic standard is 1.94m and Treasure wants to clear that hurdle in time to make the team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
She's also vying for a spot in the world championships in Beijing, China, Aug. 22-30 but needs to clear 1.94m to get there.
Treasure has one more year left on an academic scholarship, which will allow her to spend at least one more year training with K-State coach Cliff Rovelto. But after Eugene, her NCAA career will be over.
"I'll officially be done with college so it will be the international stage from then on out and I look forward to it," said Treasure.
"I think I jump better at those meets and I enjoy it better. I need to be in the top 10 in the world to really make the next step in my career and I'll see how that goes."