UofL's Henderson putting hoops on hold to focus on Track and Field

UofL's Henderson putting hoops on hold to focus on Track and Field

Louisville's Henderson to Focus on Track and Field in 2015-16
Emmonnie Henderson ranks 12th in the nation in the discus and 23rd in the shot put.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Louisville's Emmonnie Henderson has long held the dream of competing in the Olympic Games.

The dual-sport athlete announced Wednesday that she is putting her complete focus on training with the track and field program in 2015-16. Henderson has elected not to play for the women's basketball team in the upcoming year, as she works toward qualifying for a spot on the U.S. team, with aspirations of participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the shot put and discus events.

"I wanted to take the year off from basketball, with hopes of returning, to focus on making it to the Olympics," Henderson said. "It's been a goal of mine, and I know I couldn't do it without the help of coach (Dale) Cowper and coach (Jeff) Walz, so I'm very grateful to them."

Currently, Henderson ranks 12th in the United States in the discus and 23rd in the shot put. Since her time in high school, she has increased her shot put by more than five feet and her discus mark by nearly 25 feet.

"I'm excited to have Emmonnie join us full-time for the upcoming year," track and field head coach Dale Cowper said. "She has seen tremendous progress over very short, competitive spring seasons during her freshman and sophomore campaigns. I am confident she will see tremendous gains throughout the coming year."

The Edwardsville, Ill., native followed a breakout season with the track and field team competing at the 2015 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, where she finished 14th overall, sixth among collegians, in the discus.

The track and field All-American set a school record this year in the event, registering a personal-best throw 58.34m/191-5 at the NCAA Championships to finish third. At the Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Championships, she won both the discus and shot put titles – she set a personal best in the shot put with a throw of 17.09m/56-1 – to capture ACC Women's Most Valuable Field Performer honors.

"Emmonnie expressed her goal of qualifying for a spot to compete in the 2016 Olympics," head coach Jeff Walz said. "I truly believe this is the best move for her. We always tell our student-athletes that we want to look out for their best interests, and I think the best opportunity for her to make it to Rio to focus solely on track and field this school year."

With women's basketball, Henderson has played in 68 games in two seasons and averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. She tallied 25 blocks and 34 steals in that span.