SIUE track star makes big leap to success
In his early youth, there was always something dragging Julian Harvey down. Now, almost nothing can keep him on the ground.
The senior at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) won the high jump, long jump and triple jump at the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championships in Charleston, Illinois, recently. He has also been named the Midwest Region Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, according to a SIUE's website.
But he wasn't always flying so high.
“I didn't excel in basketball or football the way that I wanted to, but I was fast so I thought that I would do track,” he told the Metro East Sun by email.
But Harvey had to wait a year to do that, as his parents kept him off the track and field team because of his sports-induced asthma. When he did get to run, he found himself falling behind the better runners.
“It turns out that I wasn't as fast as the best sprinters, so that turned me to the jumps, and the rest is history,” he said.
Or more like the present, actually. Harvey has been competing on a higher plain for awhile now, including at the nationals.
“I was very grateful,” he said. “At the national meet last year, I got the chance to see and compete alongside athletes who had been honored for that award. This pushed me to want to be at that level, so being considered as a part of that group of competitors means a lot to me.”
His winning leap of 26 feet, 9¾ inches in the long jump at the Ohio Valley championships was the top indoor mark in the world this year and the best jump in Division I of the NCAA before the start of the Indoor Championships on March 10 in College Station, Texas.
Results of the Indoor Championships were unavailable at press time.
Harvey said the glory is a small part of what he likes about his sport.
“I also love meeting new people from all over the country," he said. "Track gives you so many chances to broaden your horizon and make new connections."
Once the indoor season is over, Harvey said he will redshirt for the upcoming outdoor season and have eligibility left for the 2018 outdoor season. That gives him time to add to a resume that includes two All-American finishes and school records in all three outdoor jumping events and two indoor events.
“I invested myself as much as I could in the sport,” he said about his improvement during his college career. “I tried to make the most out of every opportunity I had and wanted to go into every day trying to get better. That's how I feel you can improve and be successful in this sport.”
After his SIUE career is over, Harvey said he would like to jump professionally, and the 2020 Olympics are on his mind as well.
“Long term, I really love track, so to be able to keep it as a part of my life whether that is jumping or coaching is a goal of mine,” he said.
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Edwardsville, IL 62025