UNC high jumper chases national title

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nicole Greene is already a national champion high jumper, having won the 2018 indoor title. Saturday night, she'll be trying to add the outdoor championship to her resume as well.

She's already incredibly accomplished for someone who fell into high jumping entirely by accident.

Greene, who was a sprinter and soccer player in middle school, was just killing time waiting for a teammate to finish practicing one day before catching a ride home. She was challenged to try a jump and cleared five feet and that immediately made the coach perk up.

Jumping became her specialty from that point on and ultimately brought her to North Carolina where she became one of the nation's elite almost immediately.

The road to a title though wasn't easy. At qualifying for outdoor nationals her sophomore year, Greene bombed out, failing to even clear five feet seven inches, something she'd normally do in her sleep.

It was a turning point. Through tears, Greene and her coach Nicole Hudson vowed to never let that happen again.

They crafted a training plan and resolved to work even harder. Hudson says it was the defining moment of her coaching career. A career-best leap of six feet two inches would follow, along with the indoor title.

At that point, Greene made an unconventional choice. Rather than build on that momentum, she opted to take a redshirt season. It was a dual-pronged plan.

Greene used the time away from competition to focus her training on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo as well as enrolling in UNC's MED program, an intensive summer immersion into medical school.

Being a doctor can wait for a bit though. Greene has returned to competition as a junior and has Olympic aspirations for both 2020 and 2024. Winning another national championship in Austin on Saturday night would surely boost those chances.
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