Ngoni Makusha’s performance at this year’s NCAA championships wasn’t the best ever, but it won’t take long to call roll.
Former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips had it right when he said that about Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell, and anyone who watched Florida State’s Makusha would second the sentiment after seeing him in action at Des Moines. Makusha was dominant.
He set a collegiate record of 9.89 in the 100 meters in wet conditions and won the long jump at 8.40 meters, the second-best jump in the world this year. If you are wondering what Makusha has planned for an encore, at next year’s event, well he won’t be there. Shortly after the championship, the junior from Zimbabwe announced that he was foregoing his senior season and turning professional.
|A Quick Look Back at the 2011 Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships|
|Final Results: Men | Women|
|Video Highlights: Men | Women|
Recaps: Day 1 Men | Women
Day 2 Men | Women Day 3 Men | Women
|Participants & Heat Sheets|
“I feel like it’s time to do it,” said Makusha. “I think I’ve done enough. I think it’s the right time.
“I was thinking, ‘What can I do better?’ ‘What else is there for me?’ I talked to my coaches and they said it was a good time to go pro. They all thought it was a good time. And it was a good way to go out.”
Few have done it like he did. Makusha is just the third athlete in the past 80 years to win the long jump and the 100-meter dash in the same NCAA meet. The others: Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis.
“It’s a great honor to be mentioned with them,” Makusha said. “Those men are very important in the history of track and field. It’s really something to cherish the rest of my life. I look up to those guys. I respect them. They were very good athletes and I am very happy.”
Florida State was as well. He not only won those two events, Makusha also ran the second leg for the Seminoles’ 4x100m relay squad that won a national championship. In total, Makusha registered 22.5 of FSU’s 54 team points, which was a point behind eventual winner three-time champion Texas A&M.
“All I was thinking about then was doing well and having good results,” Makusha said. “I had a very good meet there [in Des Moines]. I went in not thinking of setting records or putting pressure on myself. I was thinking going in that anything’s possible for anybody who works as hard and trains as hard as I do.
“I went in with an open mind. I was anxious to see how I would do. I was focused on my events. I was thinking on doing what I can do, and what the coaches have told me to do. I was pleased.
The NCAA championships, along with a solid season that included ACC titles, Makusha was selected by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as its 2011 NCAA Division I National Men’s Track Athlete of the Year, as voted by the nation’s coaches. He is just the second Florida State student-athlete to win the award in its six-year history. Former Seminoles’ star Walter Dix earned the title in 2007.
Makusha is not at all sentimental about leaving because he isn’t leaving Tallahassee. He will continue to train there with his coaches. He intends to compete internationally in advance of the 2011 World Championships in South Korea in late August.
“I just feel blessed,” Makusha said. “I was healthy (after a pulled quad muscle and strained heel his sophomore year forced him and redshirted the outdoor season last year). I put everything into it this year to be healthy.
“For me, there is nothing bigger than the NCAA championships. I was just trying to do well and end the season strong. Winning ACC titles are good, but they are not the NCAAs. I just think the time is right.
“I know the competition will be very high. There will be a lot of good sprinters and jumpers. I will have to be on my game all the time. Well coach has prepared me for all that. Personally, I am ready to compete.”