June 2, 2013
“The Road to Eugene” takes a look at the individual competitors or relays that will be competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore. We will review their season both indoors and outdoors, look back at TCU’s history in the event, who are the top contenders that will be in Eugene and what the future holds for TCU for those athletes and in those events.
Having used up his indoor eligibility, Cameron Parker would only have one final outdoor run to make an impact for the Horned Frogs in 2013. The senior from the Bahamas has been a consistent presence for TCU in his three years in Fort Worth. However, this season he has made the step up to another level and comes into the NCAA Outdoor Championships as one of the top triple jumpers in the country.
He made his presence on the national scene known at the Texas Relays when he posted a third-place finish with a legal then-career-best jump of 52-10 (16.10m). It was a jump that moved him up into the top-five in the NCAA.
He continued his season with wins in the UCLA-LSU double-dual meet and the Michael Johnson Classic in Waco before the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. Again in Waco, the men’s triple jump was shaping up to be one of the most exciting events of the championships with Parker squaring off with Baylor’s freshman sensation Felix Obi and Texas Tech’s NCAA Indoor triple jump champion Bryce Lamb.
The TCU senior made sure his intentions were known right out of the gate when he posted a personal best of 53-2 3/4 (16.22m) on his first jump to break the Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex record. On his third jump he was able to add an inch to his lead with a wind-aided 53-3 3/4 (16.25m). He ended up having to survive a final jump scare as Lamb put forth as massive final jump that looked near 54 feet. However, Parker was saved by a red flag at the board indicating a foul and he clinched TCU’s first outdoor championship in the Big 12 and the third of his career.
At the NCAA West Preliminaries, the job was to get one jump in and be done for the day. He did not get off to the best start with a foul and a jump that had him 18th needing to get into the top-16 to battle for a top-12 ticket to Eugene. He rose to the occasion with a third jump of 52-5 1/4 (15.98m) to be in second after three jumps. Parker passed on his next three jumps and ended up fourth, but for the second year in a row he has the chance to jump in the final rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
TCU History at the NCAA Championships
Parker will be looking to become the fourth man in TCU history to finish in the top-eight in the NCAA Outdoor Championships triple jump. The Horned Frogs’ last foray into the triple jump team points positions was in 2007 when Jonathan Jackson finished third. The other two top-eight finishes came in 2001 when the pair of Jason Howard and Abdul Rasheed finished third and fifth, respectively, en route to the Horned Frogs finishing second in the team standings.
There have only been two men to finish ahead of Parker at the end of a meet this season (technically, the NCAA West Preliminaries are considered the first part of the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Thus, finishes are not counted for “wins” or as part of “win streaks”). One of them is the man with the top mark in the country this season, Omar Craddock of Florida. The Gators senior is the only man in the country to break 54 feet this year with his 54-0 (16.46m) jump at the SEC Outdoor Championships. The other man is Hammed Suleman of Cal, who finished a disappointing 32nd in Austin and will not be in Eugene. Also not making the trip to Eugene is Texas Tech’s Lamb, who finished 16th in Austin.
Though Parker is the No. 5 seed due to him being fourth at the NCAA West Preliminaries, the Frog comes into the meet with the nation’s No. 2 mark. However, the West Prelims also saw two other contenders have the best performances of their season with Dave Brown of Texas A&M and Tarik Batchelor of Arkansas each posting 53-0 (16.15m) jumps.
The x-factor is Florida’s talented sophomore Marquis Dendy. The NCAA Indoor champion in the long jump, Dendy shockingly missed out on a trip to Eugene in the outdoor long jump and will focus all his energy on the triple jump. He has the ability, as he finished fourth at NCAA Indoors with a jump of 53-3 3/4 (16.25m).
It is unclear how much TCU will be represented in the triple jump in the future. Parker’s departure after the NCAA Championships means there is no immediate replacement in sight. However, the wheels turn quickly and it might not be too long until TCU finds another star like Parker who can perform on the national stage.