This week in Sacramento, Calif., Moore, a fourth-year junior from Hampton, Va., will compete in the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the third time while at the University of Wisconsin. He is seeded 14th heading into the event, but after placing third at the NCAA Indoor Championships (with a personal best 53-feet, 9 ¾ inches) in March, Moore heads into the event with high expectations.
If only his back and his legs cooperate.
"My back went out Jan. 29," Moore said in a telephone interview. In the three-plus months since the injury occurred he said he has pieced together about a month of practice, but has never felt quite healthy. "(I am) just trying to get over these injuries so I can compete better than what I have been."
With a quick glance at his results, you would not know that Moore was struggling. In addition to placing third at the national indoor meet, he placed second at the Big Ten conference indoor and outdoor championships and fifth at the recent Mideast Regional qualifier.
Despite the near constant tightness in his back, and an unrelated injury to his hips, Moore has been a very productive member of the Badgers' track team, helping UW win conference championships in the indoor and outdoor seasons. In addition to his triple jump exploits, he placed third at the Big Ten indoor meet in the long jump and eighth at the conference outdoors. But he has felt some frustration with what might have been.
"I'm happy with what I did but I'm not satisfied," Moore said. "Because if I can do this—and I know what I can do—and it's like, okay, I'm injured, so I hadn't really had practice. So I'm limited. And then I go out there and I'm basically doing it pretty decent, with no practice. The disappointing part comes when… if I was able to practice I could have done a lot better."
"I think if I was healthy," he said. "I think I'd be jumping 53 consistently, probably top 54. But now I'm jumping 52 consistently with… no practicing."
Moore should have plenty of room to grow within his sport. He only began competing in the triple jump and long jump as a high school junior after a friend urged him to join the Phoebus High School track and field team. Moore had always played football and basketball, but was not a key contributor to those teams. And his friend knew that Moore was an astounding leaper. He had, after all, been able to dunk a basketball when he was in eighth grade. At the time he stood 5-foot-4.
"My junior year I was pretty decent (at triple jump)," said Moore, who now stands 5-11. "I was jumping 46 consistently…My senior year, that's when I started jumping 48s, 49s and I ended up breaking the Virginia state record with a 51-2."
That mark made Moore the top-ranked prep senior in the nation.
"I'd say it's a blessing because a lot of people have been doing track since they were young, like seventh, sixth grade," Moore said. "Here I come in high school just like one year and ended up as good as I am."
After a healthy freshman campaign at UW, however, Moore has been pestered by injuries.
In October of 2002, he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and suffered shoulder and head injuries as the result of a moped accident.
"I guess I was knocked out for a quick minute," he said. "But I just couldn't remember anything… as far as like what happened and any of that."
He was bothered by short term memory loss for months after the accident and his class work suffered as a result. He ended up dropping a couple of classes, which left him with two few credits to be eligible.
"We could have appealed it to the Big Ten but it was better for me to sit out because of the injuries that I had from my accident," Moore said.
So Moore redshirted his second year, competing unattached in a few events. He actually posted his outdoor personal best in the long jump that spring, leaping 24-2 ¼ in winning the Wisconsin Twilight.
"My body heals quickly," he said, explaining that he had begun training about a month after the accident.
The recuperation process, however, has not been as quick as he would like this spring. The biggest problem that creates, Moore said, is with his approach run. When he is not practicing he actually gets faster because his legs are fresh. And that can play havoc with his timing.
Said Moore: "My approach has got to be getting kind of different. I don't know if I have to move back or move up."
He has found one silver lining. When his injuries keep him from practicing, Moore spends time studying film of other top college triple jumpers and some of the top triple jumpers in the world, looking for flaws in his own technique.
Friday, he will put his ability, knowledge and health to the test in the qualifying for the triple jump. The event finals are Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
"I'm anxious to go out there," he said. "If I can get the run down and get the timing perfect, then everything else will fall in."
Men's NCAA outdoor schedule (times are Pacific):
Wednesday, June 8
1:30 p.m. Decathlon – Day 1 (Nathan Brown, Ben Roland)
3:45 p.m. 400 relay – Round 1 (Brian Calhoun, Jvontai Hanserd, Dan Goesch, Demi Omole)
5:40 p.m. 100 dash – Round 1 (Omole)
8:00 p.m. Shot put – Qualifying (Joe Thomas)
9:00 p.m. 5,000 meters – Round 1 (Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky)
Thursday, June 9
11:15 a.m. Decathlon – Day Two (Brown, Roland)
12:30 p.m. High jump – Qualifying (Brent Boettcher)
7:35 p.m. 1500 meters – Round 1 (Josh Spiker)
9:20 p.m. 10,000 meters – Final (Simon Bairu, Tim Nelson, Antony Ford)
Friday, June 10
5:00 p.m. Triple jump – Qualifying (Alonzo Moore, Rick Bellford)
6:30 p.m. 400 relay – Final (Calhoun, Hanserd, Goesch, Omole)
8:15 p.m. Shot put – Final (Thomas)
8:20 p.m. 100 dash – Final (Omole)
Saturday, June 11
4:00 p.m. High jump – Final (Boettcher)
6:20 p.m. 1,500 meters – Final (Spiker)
6:30 p.m. Triple jump – Final (Moore, Bellford)
7:50 p.m. 5,000 meters – Final (Tegenkamp, Solinsky)
Women's NCAA outdoor schedule:
Wednesday, June 8
7:35 p.m. Steeplechase – Round 1 (‘A Havahla Haynes)
Thursday, June 9
12:15 p.m. Heptathlon – Day 1 (Melissa Talbot)
7:05 p.m. Steeplechase – Final (Haynes)
Saturday, June 11
11:00 a.m. Heptathlon – Day 2 (Talbot)
7:20 p.m. 200 meters – Final (Lucas)