For the second consecutive year, two-sport athlete Jimmy Baxter qualified for the NCAA Championship in the high jump. He achieved the qualifying mark of 7-foot-2 in Gainesville as he took first place in the Florida Relays.
“After the three guys from Florida jumped, they started pumping up the crowd,” said Baxter. “That got me excited and pumped for my jump. After I landed it, I was so excited that I took off my shirt and started swinging it around.”
The 7-foot-2 mark was Baxter’s second attempt after failing to land his first jump of 7 feet. He barely missed this third attempt at 7-foot-4 as he hit the back of his leg on the pole. Baxter’s personal best is 7-foot-3 3/4 inches; his ultimate goal is to clear 7-foot-6.
The rest of the USF track and field team competed at the Raleigh Relays in North Carolina. But, according to coach Greg Thiel, the coaches opted to enter the high jumpers and pole-vaulters in Gainesville, rather than Raleigh due to the better jumping facilities and a less crowded field.
North Carolina State hosted the Raleigh Relays, which featured a variety of teams from the East Coast. It was an extremely crowded field, as many events featured more than 100 competitors. The larger number of teams and competitors affected the runners in many ways.
“This was the biggest field they’ve ever had,” said Thiel. “It was too big of a meet. Kids can get lost in the confusion. It was hard for the runners when to gauge when they were going to run, and when to warm up and stretch.”
Another effect of a large meet is that the athletes have to wait a long time in between heats. The 10,000 meters was run on Friday, starting at 5 p.m., and did not end until 11 p.m. Among the 36 competitors in the event, Tara Quinn placed third (24.33.18) to qualify her for the NCAA Championship. This is the second NCAA qualifying mark Quinn has achieved this season. She qualified in the 5,000 meters a week earlier at the FSU Relays.
Chandra Brewer placed fifth in the shot put and Dayana Octavien finished fifth in the discus throw. Carmen Crespo finished tied for fourth in the high jump and Bente General finished fourth in the 800 meters. The 4×400 relay team took sixth place as Austrea Wilkins took the spot of the injured Amber Delpino. Delpino is sidelined with shin splints and her status is week to week.
The men’s distance runners continue to excel. Adam Chumbley finished 10th (30:59.74) in the 10,000 meters, and Andrew Smith finished 19th (14:44.92) in the 5,000 meters.
“Adam Chumbley has been running great all year,” said Thiel. “It is phenomenal that he broke the 31 minute mark in the 10,000 meters.”
Thiel said his athletes handled the confusion of a large meet well.
“All things considered, everyone did a good job,” said Thiel. “The kids that have been running well all year, ran well again.”
James Tai covers outdoor track and field and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org