PUEBLO, COLO. – Lake Erie College sophomore Jamil Dudley (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon) became the school's first national champion on Friday evening (May 25) when he won the high jump at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Colorado State University – Pueblo's Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
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 College remained in the competition. Harsanyi failed on his first two attempts at 2.25 before passing on his third try. But when he missed on his first attempt at 2.28 meters, 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., next month for 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," said head coach Bryan Harmon. "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."
"It's a tremendous honor, for sure," Dudley said about becoming the first national champion at Lake Erie. "I've been working towards this and waiting for this for a while now. It's a great honor, but I know with the way our program is going – and all of our teams as well – that I definitely won't be the last (national champion)."
Lake Erie will have another shot at All-American honors and another trophy on Saturday, May 26, when junior Eric Klucar (Medina, Ohio/Highland) competes in the pole vault on the third and final day of the NCAA Championships.