As most CSUN students were hurrying to get started on their spring break, freshman Reindell Cole was sprinting down the runway at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. and launching himself into the fifth-best long jump in the world and the national championship.
Cole, who jumped a career-best 26-7.75 (8.12) won the NCAA Indoor Long Jump Championship and became CSUN’s first indoor champion on March 14 at the Randal Tyson Track Center at the University of Arkansas.
“That’s an amazing accomplishment for a freshman,” said Matador Director of Track ‘ Field Don Strametz. “What a great job by (jumps coach) Avery Anderson and what a tribute to Reindell.”
Cole was ranked second going into the NCAA Championships after Washington’s Norris Frederick upset him at the MPSF Championship by jumping a career-best 26-7.75 to capture that championship. Cole’s jump of 26-4.50 (8.04) took second place in the conference. This time, Frederick came in second at 26-2.75 (7.99).
“He kinda upset me there, but I got him back at nationals where it counted,” Cole said.
The championship caps an amazing season that started with the freshman’s debut jump that blew away the entire nation: a 26-1.75 (7.97) leap at the indoor season-opening University of Washington Invitational. Although others were surprised at his first effort, Cole said he had told people beforehand that he would jump 26 feet.
“They thought I was crazy,” Cole said. “Some people thought that (for) my first meet I was gonna open up with a good, high-24, low-25. But, no, I was working too hard for that.”
Cole knew he had the ability to jump further and just needed the opportunity to show what he could do.
“I was waiting for it,” Cole said. “My expectations were higher than everybody else’s.”
His next goal is to break 27 feet, but ultimately, Cole believes he can hit 28 feet.
“I think if I work harder, I think I’m capable of pulling off like a 28-low,” Cole said.” I’m at 26.7 right now and 27 is just around the corner. So, if I work hard enough I’ll probably be at 28-low.”
Cole’s long jump championship follows directly behind Dashalle Andrews’ NCAA outdoor long jump championship last season.
“He’s a real cool dude,” Cole said of Andrews. “We talk every time we see each other. We always give each other words of advice. Nothing negative. ”
Cole, along with senior Justin Johnson, received 2008 USTFCCCA Men’s Division I Indoor Track ‘ Field All-American honors for their performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“Its cool, but I don’t dwell off stuff like that,” Cole said. “When I won nationals, its just spur of the moment. You can’t just dwell on that, cause you gotta convert from indoor to outdoor. ?So I just celebrated the first night, then I just forgot about it. That’s just how I am.”
For Johnson, who competes in the heptathlon, being named an All-American for the first time was “bittersweet.”
“They take the top eight Americans as All-American and my goal was to place eighth overall, and I placed ninth,” Johnson said. “It was exciting to be an All-American, but at the same time, it just kinda gives me more motivation for outdoor.”
Johnson, ranked 14th heading into the indoor championships, scored a career-best 5,623 points. He scored 3,157 points on the first day after running a career-best 7.16 in the 60-meter dash, jumping 23-8 (7.21) in the long jump, posting a distance of 39-11.25 (12.17) in the shot put and clearing a height of 6-8.75 (2.05) in the high jump. On the second day of competition, Johnson ran 8.10 in the 60-meter hurdles, cleared 4.15 meters (13-07.25) in the pole vault and ran 2:42.13 in the 1,000 meters.
Sophomore Desirae Gonder was the only CSUN woman to make the NCAA indoor championships and was ranked 11th in the women’s high jump with height of 5-11.50 (1.82), which is her career-best, set at the UW Invitational on Feb. 2. Gonder tied for 14th with a jump of 1.75m, (5-08.75).
Prior to the NCAA Indoor Championships, CSUN competed in the MPSF Championships. Northridge was competing in the MPSF for the first season since 2005. For the past two seasons the Matadors have competed in the WAC, where the CSUN women’s team won the conference championship last year. The MPSF is comprised of ten teams from the West, including eight of the nine Pac-10’s track and field programs.
The CSUN women’s team came in eighth in the conference with 38.50 points. Arizona State won the championship with 154.50, Stanford was second with 141 points and Oregon was third with 72 points.
The men’s team placed ninth with 49 points. Oregon won the championship with 90 points, followed by California with 84.50 points. Stanford was third with 83 points.
Senior Thomas Ross won the 60-meter hurdles at 8.04 and was the only Matador to win an event.
“I happened to win, which was cool, but I wasn’t really happy with that race,” Ross said.
Ross had run faster during the prelims, clocking an indoor personal-best 7.97.
“There was technical stuff I didn’t feel I did right in the race,” Ross said.” I still happened to come out with a victory, but I wish I would have run a lot faster than I did.”
Ross said his goal every week is to run faster than he did the week before.
“That’s my goal pretty much,” Ross said. “The first place really doesn’t mean anything to me. I just wanna set personal records, go faster than I did the week before.”
Other top performances for the men included junior Bradley Ike’s career-best time of 6.79 to place third in the 60 meters and Johnson’s sixth place finish in the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 8.16. Cole placed fourth in the high jump with a height of 6-8.25 (2.04) and Andrews placed sixth in the long jump with a leap of 24-4.50 (7.43). Awet Hagos placed seventh in the triple jump with a distance of 48-4.75 (14.75) and Cody Pearce threw a career-best 61-11.75 (18.89) in the weight throw for a third place finish.
On the women’s side, Sherrina Lofton ran a career-best 7.58 in the 60 meters for a sixth place finish and Precious Watkins followed with a time of 7.63. Senior Ashleigh McGrew placed third in the 60-meter hurdles, running a career-best 8.53. Gonder tied for third in the high jump with a height of 5-10 (1.78) and senior Krystal Quinn tied for third in the pole vault with a career-best height of 13-1 (3.99). Junior Morgan Bogard threw 62-1.75 (18.94) to finish fourth in the weight throw and Bobbie Patton took sixth in the shot put with a mark of 47-11.25 (14.61). The team of Tara Prier, Lofton, Desirae Gonder and Shelese Ruffin finished third in the 4×400 relay with a time of 3:40.50.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have started their outdoor season and both are defending their Big West Outdoor Track and Field Championships.