Ann Foster competes in the triple jump for Abilene Christian University in the early 1980s. Photo courtesy of ACU Athletics
JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
ABILENE — As Ann Foster Faulknor was setting triple jump records at Abilene Christian University, the 1983 Marble Falls High School graduate never dreamed she would land in the university’s Sports Hall of Fame.
But that’s what happened when Faulknor returned to the campus April 10 with her husband, Chris, and children, Christopher and Alexis.
“I made a fantastic choice, even if it was my only choice,” Faulknor said about attending ACU. “I grew in so many ways. I expanded my view of people. I met different people from different parts of the world. You have to learn how to get along with people.”
Faulknor was a dominating athlete at Marble Falls High School, lettering in basketball and track and field. She caught the eye of first-year ACU track-and-field coach Wes Kittley while he attended the Class 3A track-and-field state championships in 1983. He saw how she excelled in the triple jump. She also was a sprinter.
Faulknor always wanted to be a collegiate athlete. She just wanted a basketball scholarship to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Kelly Clark, who played the sport for Angelo State University.
“But no basketball scholarship had come,” she said with a laugh. “My mother was just adamant, ‘You’re going to ACU.’”
As a triple jumper, Faulknor set new personal bests for three years at ACU. She started with a mark of 40 feet 10¾ inches and ended with a career high 42-0 as a junior, which was a school record for 20 years. The Wildcat was a four-time NCAA Division II national champion, a three-time Lone Star Conference Champion and a top 10 finisher at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships three times. If a Division II athlete hit the standard mark for Division I, she automatically qualified to compete in the NCAA’s top meet. Faulknor finished eighth at the Division I championships in 1984 with a leap of 39-10½.
Track-and-field athletes receive All-American status by finishing in the top 10 in their events at national meets. And since Faulknor did so in both divisions, she was a two-time All-American in the same event in the same year three times.
“When I first left (Marble Falls), I was frightened,” she said. “ACU is bigger than Marble Falls. When I got there, I got comfortable. I got in a Christian environment. I was used to going to church, and I really enjoyed it. Being a standout in athletics in a small town is different. In a college level, all those people are standouts.”
Since the competition was better, Faulknor said she simply worked harder. And it paid off in more ways than just gold medals, she said. She better appreciated what it meant to have others depend on her for top finishes, to pull for teammates in their events and to grow as a person as well as an athlete.
ACU, she said, was about training up the student as well as the athlete. A public relations major, she was a member of the school’s Prickly Pear yearbook staff.
“Once I was set on what I wanted to do, I tried to be the best I could be,” Faulknor said.
She took that education with her when she and Chris moved to Los Angeles. Alexis is a sprinter and long jumper for the University of Southern California and has a time of 11.22 in the 100 meters and a mark of 21-6 in the long jump.
“Alexis is much faster than me,” her mother said.
In June, Faulknor will celebrate 26 years of working for Kingsley Manor, a retirement community, where she is the marketing manager.
But no matter the Hall of Fame, the numerous records or her living in L.A., Faulknor said the city of Marble Falls and its residents still have a special place in her heart.
“I always tell people I would never change where I came from,” she said. “The values you learn, not only from your parents but from a small community, you learn to say ‘thank you,’ ‘yes sir,’ ‘no sir.’ You learn to look people in the eye. In a small town, people know you, they root for you and they mean it. They have good hearts. They’ll help you, and they mean it.”