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Oct 09, 2023Oct 09, 2023

Camryn Newton-Smith has reached an NCAA national championship before. Three times, in fact.

However, between covid-19 in 2020, a ruptured Achilles in 2021 and a nagging ankle injury this winter, the Australian has never actually competed on her sport's biggest stage.

That'll change this weekend when Newton-Smith wraps up her Arkansas State career with an appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas. Newton-Smith and the rest of the 24 qualified heptathletes will begin Friday afternoon with the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200 meters before completing the event with the long jump, javelin and 800 meters Saturday evening.

Although it's an event in which Newton-Smith has proved herself this year -- she finished among the top three in six of seven events at Sun Belt Championships, including wins in the high jump, long jump and shot put -- both she and Coach Jim Patchell pointed to the "grueling" nature of a multi-event competition.

"Seven times, you have to step on the line and every time you have to mentally prepare," Newton-Smith said. "It's really stressful. One event goes bad, you have to pick yourself up for the next one."

En route to earning Sun Belt Women's Field Performer of the Year honors this spring, Newton-Smith shattered the conference's heptathlon record, scoring a total of 5,818 points. Yet it was not a personal best -- while home at the Queensland Combined Events Championships in Dec. 2022 in Brisbane, Australia, Newton-Smith took gold with 5,821 points.

Either one of those scores would've put Newton-Smith in fifth at last year's NCAA Outdoors, more than good enough for All-America honors -- something that Patchell said was a goal when Newton-Smith arrived in Jonesboro as a freshman in Fall 2018.

"You have to be on top of the mental game but you have to be physically ready and anything can happen," Patchell said, pointing to the fact that Newton-Smith was second on the qualifying list for the pentathlon this winter before missing indoor nationals. "She had a little injury and had to pull out, so she was disappointed about that. She's going to be ready for this one."

Newton-Smith's ankle flared up again prior to West Preliminaries, so she only competed in the long jump and took one attempt at the high jump before shutting things down. What ultimately mattered was getting healthy for Austin.

"I'm super excited," said said. "I feel like everything's finally coming together."

Not only will Newton-Smith end her time as a Red Wolf this weekend, but outdoor nationals will put a bow on a season that Patchell described as one of the better years for Arkansas State's track and field program.

The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt men's cross-country championship in the fall, then swept in both the league's indoor and outdoor championships in the winter and spring, respectively. Six different Arkansas State athletes won individual conference accolades and Patchell piled up more Coach of the Year honors.

"To cap off a great year with four going to the national championships, that's a testament to our coaching staff and student-athletes who put in the work to get there," Patchell said.

Print Headline: Newton-Smith to compete at NCAAs

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