Vanderbilt's Simone Charley was literally at her best on Saturday night, and she came tantalizingly close to being rewarded for her effort with a spot at the World Championships.
Competing in the triple jump at the USATF Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Charley broke her own school record and set a lifetime personal best with a mark of 43-2.50. She missed qualifying for the IAAF World Championships by just one centimeter while earning a third-place finish.
"It was a very cruel twist, so to speak," said Vanderbilt assistant coach Clark Humphreys, who traveled to Eugene with Charley. "But gosh, for Simone to set a lifetime PR -- wow, you can't ask for more than that."
Charley, a rising sophomore at Vanderbilt, needed to finish among the top two places to earn a spot on the U.S. team for the World Championships. She was edged out by second-place finisher Marshay Ryan of Auburn, who posted a mark of 43-3. Keturah Orji (unattached) won the event with a mark of 44-1.05.
"To be one centimeter away from representing the United States, that's pretty incredible," said Humphreys. "She is an amazing athlete."
With her mark on Saturday night, Charley beat her previous school record of 43-1 that she set at the NCAA East Preliminary on May 31.
Charley, who is also a star soccer player for the Commodores, was in Eugene last month for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Posting a mark of 42-7, she earned a ninth-place finish and All-American Second Team status.
She will be listed as an alternate for the World Championships, and could potentially be added to the U.S. roster if an injury occurs to one of the athletes in the triple jump. South Alabama's Kaitlyn Beans, who took fourth place on Saturday night with a mark of 42-7.50, is also an alternate.
The IAAF World Junior Championships will be held July 22-27 in Eugene.
Charley entered Saturday's event with a No. 4 national ranking among juniors (ages 19 and under) and ranked No. 21 overall among U.S. women. She earned that status after an outstanding freshman season that included a series of record-breaking jumps and a fifth-place finish at the SEC Championships with a jump of 42-8.
"She is very deserving of all the accolades that have come her way," said Humphreys. "She is a great kid, and is very humble."
She broke the school record in the triple jump in April, and then went on to break her own record three more times before the year ended, including a season's best jump of 43-1 at the NCAA East Preliminary. Charley became the first Commodore since 2011 to qualify for the NCAA Championships and had the best mark of any freshman at the event.
CHARLEY'S SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
* Earned All-American Second Team honors after finishing ninth in the triple jump at the NCAA Track & Field (outdoor) Championships with a jump of 42-7; It was the best mark among all freshman in the event.
* Qualified for the outdoor NCAA Track & Field Championships in the triple jump, becoming the first Commodore to advance to Eugene since 2010
* Broke her own school record with a jump of 43-1 on the final day of the NCAA East Outdoor Preliminary.
* Finished fifth in the triple jump at the SEC Outdoor Championships, where she posted a mark of 42-1.75 in the prelims and a mark of 42-8 in the finals (breaking her own school record with each jump).
* Was a member of the 4x200 relay team that set the outdoor school record (1:40.24) during the regular season.
* Initially set the new school record in the triple jump in April at the Sea Island Relays with a mark of 41-10.75
* Indoor season: Set the second-best mark on VU's all-time performance list in the triple jump (41-8.50)
* Named to the All-SEC Freshman Team
* Ranked second on the team in goals (five)
* Tied for the team lead in assists (five)
* Second on the team in points (15)
* Scored game-winning goal against Memphis