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OPINION | NATE ALLEN: Hibbert jumps into school recordbook

by Nate Allen | May 27, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
Arkansas triple-jumper Jaydon Hibbert holds his first-place medal during the Razorbacks’ championship sweep at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships in February at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The 57-5 Indoor jump by Charleston Southern's Charlie Simpkins in 1986 and the 57-7 3-4 Outdoor jump by SMU's Keith Connor in 1982 officially mark the collegiate triple jump records surpassed by Razorbacks freshman Jaydon Hibbert this past Indoor and current Outdoor track and field season.

For Arkansas, and much of the track and field world given Mike Conley's impact, Hibbert surpassing Conley's Razorbacks triple jump records most impresses.

What Michael Jordan means to basketball, 9-time NCAA triple jump/long jump champion Conley means to Arkansas track including Olympic gold and silver triple jump medals and three times World Championship gold.

For the late head coach John McDonnell and former field events coach Dick Booth, Conley was instrumental completing Arkansas' first Cross Country-Indoor-Outdoor Southwest Conference triple crowns from 1982-85, first NCAA team championship (1984 Indoor) and completing Arkansas' first national championship triple crown (1984-85). Conley's legacy includes school records 57-1 Indoor triple jump, a collegiate record until Simpkins' 57-5 a year later, and Conley's Outdoor legal wind conditions Arkansas best 57-6.5.

Jamaican Hibbert, a mere 18-years old with NCAA Indoor and SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor victories heading into Friday's NCAA Outdoor West Preliminary for advancement to June's NCAA Outdoor Championships, took one 57-6.5 collegiate record jump for Coach Chris Bucknam's victorious Razorbacks at the NCAA Indoor in Albuquerque, N.M.

On his second jump in Baton Rouge, La. for Arkansas' SEC Outdoor champions, Hibbert posted 58-7.5 shattering Connor's 57-7.5 collegiate record. Hibbert tied Conley's post collegiate 58-7.5 best.

Travis Geopfert, Bucknam's field events coach, marvels.

"When I got here in '09 I thought if there was one record I would never be fortunate enough to coach a kid to break it's Mike Conley's school record," Geopfert said. "And obviously Erick Walder's (28-8.25 still collegiate record 1994 long jump). To have a young man break Mike Conley's record is humbling."

Conley classily passed the torch.

"Mike texted me immediately after the record was broken telling him 'Congrats, and glad he's a Razorback," Bucknam said. "Mike has been incredibly gracious and supportive."

Hibbert takes note.

"Mike Conley's one of the greatest Olympic jumpers," Hibbert said. "To break his record Indoors and Outdoors, it's an honor and just shows the depth of young athletes today."

This young athlete achieved on baby steps.

A 2-plus inches growth spurt since his UA arrival rendered Hibbert's hips so painful that Geopfert delays also long jumping him until 2024. Hibbert still hasn't employed the preferred 14-steps triple jump approach both plan implementing by this summer's Jamaican Nationals.

"He started me off at eight steps, then 10 steps then 12," Hibbert said.

Geopfert chuckles.

"Obviously that short approach hasn't limited his jumps extremely," Geopfert said.

Though short stepped, Hibbert otherwise performs without limits whether academically or team impact, his coaches concur.

"He just brings swag to our team," Bucknam said. "Everybody knows the level he's competing and it elevates everybody to another level."

Print Headline: Hibbert jumps into UA recordbook


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