PUEBLO, Colo. — Lake Erie’s Jamil Dudley became the school’s first national champion on Friday evening when he won the high jump at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Dudley, who already had three All-American credits to his name heading into the Outdoor Championships, opened the event by clearing his first five attempts — the only competitor to do so. After missing his first chance at 7′ 4 ½” (2.25 meters), he cleared it on his second attempt to match his career high.
That height is also the ninth best in the history of NCAA Division II.
At that point, only Dudley and 2011 national champion Oliver Harsanyi of Western State remained in the competition. Harsanyi failed on his first two attempts at 2.25 meters before passing on his third try. But when he missed on his first attempt at 2.28m, Dudley was the national champion.
“I thought when he passed on his final try at 2.25, it was a pretty good move strategically,” Dudley said. “But when he didn’t clear that next one, I was just overwhelmed at the very thought of being national champion.”
With the victory clinched, Dudley took three tries at 2.28, which is the automatic qualifying height for the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, but was unable to clear the bar despite three solid attempts. His winning jump matched his B Standard jump from earlier this season and likely will send him to Eugene, Ore., in Junefor a shot at the U.S. Olympic team.
“I thought I had it on my first attempt, but my heels just clipped (the bar) on the way down,” Dudley said. “But it is definitely in reach.”
Dudley is currently in the top-10 nationally, according to USA Track & Field, and has only to be in the top 24 to earn a spot at the trials. But right now, both he and his coach are focusing on his most recent triumph.
“We felt coming in that (Dudley) had a really good shot to win a championship, maybe expected him to do it,” head coach Bryan Harmon said.
“He’s put a lot of work in to get better at his craft and we are both very excited for Jamil and proud of his accomplishments. Our (track and field) program is still relatively young, but guys like Jamil are quickly putting us on the map.”