Tiana Wills ended her San Francisco State career by setting a school record in the high jump and earning her third All-American honor, but she has bigger goals in sight. The recent graduate has her eyes on the USA Track and Field National Championships being held this weekend at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium, which she believes could be the most important competition of her career thus far.
"This is the big meet," she said this week. "This is gonna decide whether I am able to continue my career in the high jump or not."
Wills is no stranger to high-level competition. On Feb. 23 she finished second in the high jump at the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships with a mark of 6 feet, 2 inches breaking the S.F. State record, which was also owned by her (6-¾).
The 5-foot-11 Wills was at it again three weeks later, this time at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, finishing in the top three for the second consecutive year in her final collegiate competition with the Gators.
She is not changing much in her weekly preparation for Saturday's event.
"I'm basically just going off what my coach is having me do," Wills said. "He doesn't want to complicate things for me, today we just worked on the basics of high jump."
The Moreno Valley native knows she's going to deal with nerves during the meet. She will also have to overcome her fear of heights once again, an ironic fear for a high jumper to have. Wills says she sings, dances and becomes really talkative during events to help her relax.
"I'm not really nervous going into the meet, I don't actually get nervous until it's my turn to jump," she said with a laugh. "After my first or second jump I normally get the jitters out and I'm fine. Sometimes the nerves come back over the course of the meet because I'm scared of heights. I don't always like to know how high I'm jumping."
The height Wills will be aiming for this weekend is 6-3 or above. If she reaches that mark she will be headed to the USA Olympic Training Center in San Diego to continue her track career.
Wills hopes her future includes professional high jump for many years to come, but plans to move back to Southern California if that doesn't work out. She is also interested in becoming a high school history teacher.