He's done it once already this year. Today, Fallon's Aarik Wilson will take the first step toward repeating as a triple jump-long jump gold medalist when the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships open in Sacramento.
The Indiana University senior won both events at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March and is a contender to win both again during the outdoor meet being hosted by Sacramento State today through Saturday at the Alex Spanos Sports Complex. The long jump prelims are today at 4:30 p.m., with the finals scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday. The triple jump prelims are Friday at 5 p.m. and the finals will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
A minor injury didn't prevent him from winning the Mideast Region triple jump last weekend on his home Robert C. Haugh Track and Field facility in Bloomington, Ind., where he posted a mark of 55 feet, 3 3/4 inches. His personal best is 56-5 1/2, a mark that was good for second-place at the NCAA outdoor nationals last year in Austin, Texas.
"I am happy with my performance. The whole goal of today was to go out and get a jump in early not really have to strain myself too much with this injury. The more time I can get without stressing it and pushing it the better. It was good to come out and get one off on my first jump so I could sit down and get myself together for the next two weeks," Wilson said afterward.
"I will be ready," he added, referring to nationals. "I got through this weekend pretty well. There's a little soreness, but I will be 100 percent."
Wilson placed fourth in the long jump at the regional meet with a mark of 24-8 1/4. He flew to a personal best 26-3 - the third best mark in school history - to win at the Big Ten Conference Championships in May.
Wilson is seeded No. 2 behind Arizona State's Trevell Quinley in the long jump. A two-time runner-up in the triple jump at the national outdoor meet, he is now seeded No. 3 in the event behind Rodrigo Mendes of BYU and Allen Simms of USC.
Simms and Wilson have been familiar rival over the years. At the 2003 NCAA indoor meet Wilson went 55-9, a lifetime best at the time, but he had to settle for second-place when Simms flew 56-7 1/2 on the last jump of the competition.
"I hate to lose, period. I can't stand losing. I try to be a good loser, but I still can't stand it," Wilson said during a 2003 interview at the Carson City home of his grandparents, Grant and Nisha Kremers.
However, Wilson is looking to reverse some bad memories of Sacramento. In 2003, hobbled by a foot stress fracture, he didn't even make it to the finals at the NCAA outdoor meet. Last year, he returned to the same stadium and again failed to get out of the prelims at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
The 2001 Churchill County High School graduate hasn't had very many disappointments during a collegiate career in which he has earned All-American honors eight times. Last month he was named Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championships after sweeping the long jump and triple jump at the conference meet. He is just the second Indiana Hoosier to be selected Big Ten Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year (U.S. Olympian Bob Kennedy won it three-straight years in 1990-92).
"Aarik is such a special athlete," Indiana director of track and field Randy Heisler told iuhoosiers.com. "He wins everything he does and it's fun to watch him do it. We are lucky to have him here."
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