“All American Baby,” is what track and field coach Marc Bierbaum said before Senior Phil Thompson even took a single jump at the Division II Indoor Track and Field National Championships.
Bierbaum had all the confidence in the world of his triple jump star, but not even he was quite prepared for how Thompson jumped at Nationals.
“I could see it happen, but no, I did not expect this,” Bierbaum said.
Bierbaum is, of course, talking about how Phil Thompson, the 14 ranked triple jumper at Nationals, who took third place with a jump of 15.53m (50-11 ½). This jump shattered the school record and Thompson’s personal best by nearly two feet. This jump occurred on his third jump during the first flight and earned him All-American Honors, the first in Missouri Western track and field history.
Assistant coach Cody Ingold, who works mainly with the jumpers, was ecstatic.
“It’s awesome, it’s amazing!” Ingold said. “When we started this thing, we obviously have goals and ambitions to do those things, but to actually have it happen is awesome.”
Even before his jump, Thompson was not thinking top three although he was thinking All-American.
“Hoping for definitely top eight,” Thompson said. “It’s about time I squeeze in there being my senior year.”
It would seem Thompson exceeded his own expectations, but it did not always seem like that was going to be the case. After winning his heat in the first flight, time started to become a factor.
“He had to sit around too long,” Bierbaum said. “He waited probably 45 minutes the way they bring people out. Got a little off on that first jump and actually tweaked his knee a little.”
With a tweaked knee there may have been cause for slight concern, but Thompson was able to overcome it.
“You could tell he was a little tentative in his second jump, but he brought it on his last jump of the day,” Bierbaum said.
Thompson jumped 15.37m on his last jump which was the second-best jump of his career and still would have placed him fourth. However, Thompson’s best jump of his career came earlier in the first flight on his third jump and allowed him to place third.
Bierbaum could tell Thompson knew he had a chance at All-American after his historical jump.
“He had a tear in his eye after that particular jump,” Bierbaum said. “I mean he was excited. He was pumped. He’s a historian of the game and he knew historically that was going to get him into the final and put him [All American].”
Among other MIAA participants, Thompson finished second to Sedeekie Edie of Lincoln by a mere 2 centimeters(15.55m). DeVontae Steele of Texas A&M-Commerce was significantly better than the rest of the competition and won with a jump of 16.25m.
Outdoor track and field has begun as the Griffons will head to Emporia for the Emporia State Invite on Saturday, March 31. This will be their first chance to compete outdoors after last weeks meet in Iowa was canceled due to weather.