Spring is in the air, and collegians in several parts of the United States took advantage of the warmer weather to kick off their outdoor track and field seasons. Saint Lucia’s Jeannelle Scheper, representing the University of South Carolina, was among that number, and she is in for some early recognition.

On Tuesday the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced its first group of eight National Athletes of the Week, men and women from across four divisions, including the NJCAA.

Scheper, a redshirt senior from Gros Islet, and an alumna of St Joseph’s Convent, is in her final season with the Gamecocks. She has been out of collegiate competition for just about 12 months, but according to her USTFCCCA citation, “the two-time national runner-up picked up where she left off a year and a week ago.”

Last Friday at the Alan Connie Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, Jeannelle cleared 1.91m (6’3.25″) to win the women’s High Jump. That’s just two centimetres lower than the best indoor mark in the NCAA this winter, and the early-season collegiate outdoor leader, earning her Division I Female Athlete of the Week for the first time in her career.

After a full weekend of competition across the United States, the young Saint Lucian has the national lead in her event by eight centimetres. she has also been named as Southeastern Conference Field Events Athlete Of The Week for the second time, the first time during the outdoors season since March 2011.

In her first outdoor college meet since 2013, Scheper matched her school-record mark, shattered the stadium record by more than six inches, and finished nearly five inches better than teammate Nakita Gray, who finished second overall. Her mark stands as the best across all divisions, three and a half inches better than the next-closest mark.

It should be no surprise that Jeannelle has hit the ground running. She competed and won at Saint Lucia’s 2014 National Championships, and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Championships. In 2014, she also placed fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland,and was a silver medallist at the Pan Am Sports Festival in Mexico.

National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week. Nominations are open to the public. Coaches and sports information directors are encouraged to nominate their student-athletes; as are student-athletes, their families and friends, and fans.

The award seeks to highlight not only the very best times, marks and scores on a week-to-week basis, but also performances that were significant on the national landscape and/or the latest in a series of strong outings. Quality of competition, suspenseful finishes and other factors will also play a role in the decision.

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