Wilson leaves legacy for local kids

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Aarik Wilson competes in the finals of the long jump at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento on Thursday.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Aarik Wilson competes in the finals of the long jump at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento on Thursday.

Aarik Wilson hates to lose and he's the first to admit it.

As far as the Indiana University senior and product of Fallon was concerned, third-place in the long jump and triple jump at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships last week just was not good enough.

You see, he had gone to Sacramento to win both events, just as he had done at the NCAA indoor meet back in March. Anything less than that was simply unacceptable.

Wilson was likely hindered by a groin injury he sustained one month before at the Big Ten Conference Championships - he was injured on a jump in which he tried to beat the meet record of 26-8 1/4 set by Jesse Owens in 1936, a world record at that time.

Even though he posted a season best mark of 55 feet, 7 inches in the triple jump on Saturday night,there were definite signs of stiffness afterward.

As it turned out, he fell four inches short of the winning jump of BYU's Rodrigo Mendes, a junior from Brazil who will celebrate his 27th birthday on Monday.

Even if the injury hurt him, Wilson made no excuses. He made no excuses about losing to a foreign athlete who is six years older and who was unbeaten in the event this season.

Fact is, Wilson expects to win every time out. He's competitive and that's why he's become one of the best horizontal jumpers in the U.S. and the world. And if all goes well between now and 2008, he could be back at the Olympic Trials, possibly in Sacramento again, contending for a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.

In a sport that normally receives little recognition, a benchmark in Northern Nevada is provided by such athletes as Wilson, who earned 10 All-American awards and two national titles in four years at Indiana; Carson City's George Pincock, who ran for a University of Colorado 4x400 relay team that nearly qualified for the NCAA final this season; Ely's Zack Lloyd, recently named Big West Conference Freshman of the Year for Utah State; and Minden's Chris Chappell, who just concluded his four-year career as a pole vaulter at Arizona.

And there are others on the way, including Smith Valley's Jordan Savidge, the all-time Nevada pole vault leader who hopes to sign with a Division I school soon. Carson's Josh Heilman, second in the the Golden West Invitational boys 100 meters Sunday, is headed to Mt. San Antonio College and his ultimate goal is to run at USC one day.

It's just great to see local kids competing on a national stage.

n Contact Dave Price at dprice@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1220.


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