Jumper riding high after national, conference achievements
Track and field is sometimes a sport of inches and milliseconds.
Senior jumper Chris Carter had his share of frustrations in past seasons, coming up literally less than an inch short. This year he put it together, placing fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships and becoming an All-American.
“My sophomore year I missed All-American by a few centimeters,” Carter said.
“Last year it was right there in my hands and I missed it again, so to finally get it feels really good.”
He was honored for his performance Tuesday, being named the Conference USA Male Field Athlete of the Year. Carter was unaware that the accolade existed, but happy for a pat on the back.
“The recognition is nice,” he said. “I didn’t even know they had that award. I was shocked when I got it.”
Carter swept the 2011 Indoor C-USA championships in the long and triple jump, but his biggest competition is usually his teammates.
Apart from the guidance of head coach Leroy Burrell and assistant coach Will Blackburn, UH has four other all-conference jumpers.
Junior Isaiah Sweeney placed second in the long jump at the C-USA meet, and seniors Lamar Delaney and Jonathan Williams placed third and fourth. In the triple jump Delaney was the runner-up and Williams placed third — junior Thomas Lang was in fourth.
“With jumping, it involves a lot of technique,” Carter said. “If I see my teammate doing something wrong I try to help them. When I help them it helps me because if I see something they did wrong, I’ll make sure I’m not doing it wrong either. It keeps me polished.”
As one of the team’s captains, Carter gradually settled into a leadership role during his four years at UH.
“He’s vocal and leads by example,” Burrell said. “He leads by his work ethic, and is also a leader in the classroom. In all aspects, I think he’s one of the best all-around student-athletes on campus.”
The jumps are a delicate event, and any twitch or misstep could ruin a quality jump. Making Carter aware of what of his positives and his flaws has led to his success this season.
“He’s beginning to mature. The first couple years I don’t think he was as much of a student of his event as he needed to be. He didn’t quite understand why he was successful, or why he struggled. This year we pinpointed what he did well and accentuated it. I think he understands a little bit more.”
While Carter is a threat to win the long and triple jump at the C-USA Outdoor meet, his talent may be retained for the outdoor season, to make him a more viable asset internationally.
“The plan is to redshirt him outdoors,” Burrell said. “My goal is to continue to work with him and get him to the point where he’s an elite jumper in the US. I’d like to have another year to do that and give him the opportunity to compete his senior year and earn a spot on the Olympic team.”
Whether Carter finishes his career at UH this spring or next is up in the air, but he said keeping things simple keeps the sport just as fun as when he started.
Academically, Carter is a senior and has no intentions of leaving the sport when his eligibility runs out.
“I want to keep jumping,” Carter said. “I’m going to keep training hard. The Olympics are coming up, and the World Championships are this year – I want to make one of those teams.”