Baxter stumbles to 13th at NCAAs

USF track and field star Jimmy Baxter finished a disappointing 13th place at the NCAA Championships in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday. Baxter went into the meet with high expectations as he earned All-American honors last year as a freshman. This year, he went into the championship ranked No. 2 in the nation.

“I let the emotion and my eagerness to become a national champion get in the way of my goal, which was to make every height,” said Baxter.

Having successfully cleared 7 feet, 4 1/2 inches earlier this season, Baxter was a favorite to win the event.

“I thought I had my approach where it needed to be. I couldn’t afford to have mental breakdowns, and that’s what I did,” said Baxter.

After clearing the initial height of 6 feet, 10 3/4 inches, he failed three times to clear 7 feet. According to Baxter, his first jump at 7 feet was really flat. On his second jump, he stuttered his steps and caught his cleat on the bar. His third jump also was flat.

“I knew I could make it. I didn’t take it lightly, but I didn’t have any urgency,” said Baxter. “I think that it really hurt me in the long run.”

Tora Harris from Princeton won the competition clearing a height of 7 feet, 4 1/2 inches. Harris was the only competitor coming into the meet ranked ahead of Baxter.