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Debate

Can Tara Davis-Woodhall's success be solely attributed to her talent, or does her coach deserve more credit?

As another Olympic Games stare us in the face, Texas Longhorns’ student-athlete Tara Davis-Woodhall eyes another opportunity to fulfill her quest for the maiden gold medal on the grand stage. The 25-year-old star punched the ticket to her second Games at the US Team Trials last month after winning the women’s long jump event with a distance of 7.00m.

However, for any athlete, to pursue their dream on the grandest stage is often a culmination of not just their own efforts, but also a result of the support they receive from the surrounding people. Similarly, for Tara Davis, her husband Hunter is one of her biggest cheerleaders. But he isn’t the only one who’s stood firm in Tara’s corner.

Meet Travis Geopfert, the coach of the champion athlete Tara Davis

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Travis Geopfert, the Associate Head Coach for Track and Field at the University of Arkansas, has been the main man who has helped Tara develop her skills in recent years. Geopfert has earned his name by coaching a long line of celebrity athletes, who have brought their coach honor in both domestic and international competitions. With a not-so-shabby NCAA career to boast, Geopfert is known for his mentoring of combined event athletes and jumpers.

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Geopfert has served, in various roles, in a number of prestigious programs, including the University of Northern Iowa (his alma mater), the University of Tennessee, and most recently, the University of Arkansas. Travis also boasts five Olympians and 25 World Championships qualifiers under his tutelage and is a four-time National Assistant Coach of the Year.

Geopfert is called coach by 100 NCAA All-American athletes, which only goes on to show the kind of wisdom he has to offer to his stars. But what makes him stand out from the rest?

What makes him an asset: Into the success through past and present

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As another of his students stands on the precipice of greatness, Tara Davis wouldn’t be the first athlete from Camp Geopfert who has catapulted him into international attention. Jarrion Lawson and Jaydon Hibbert, winners of the Bowerman Award in 2016 and 2023, respectively, were both coached by Travis. Along with them, Geopfert also was the coach of 5 Jamaican national champion athletes as well as 19 NCAA Champions in six different events. Thanks to his able guidance, the celebrity coach’s students have also brought him one World Junior Championships record as well as an American Junior record.

Geopfert has been a part of the Razorbacks since 2009, with a three brief stint of three years between (2018-21) with Tennessee. Since his return, the Arkansas track and field team have once again become one of the most dominant sides in the NCAA circuit. Now, the only thing that remains to be seen is if Tara can be the one who brings the one medal that still eludes Travis Geopfert: an Olympic gold!