Leaping To A Legacy
June 25, 2004
"I want people to say that I was a good Hoosier and that I represented Indiana University the best it can be represented."
That's not all people will be saying about Aarik Wilson after his career is finished in Bloomington.
The Fallon, Nevada native has already built an impressive resume in his first three years, and he's not finished yet. Since arriving in Bloomington, Wilson has achieved All-America status four times, set the IU school triple jump record, earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades in 2002, and has been an All-Big Ten performer each of his first three years. But this is just the beginning for the junior standout.
After an outdoor season highlighted by a Big Ten Championship in the triple jump, a third-place finish in the long jump and a second-place finish in the triple jump at the NCAA Championships, Wilson will head to Sacramento, California next month to compete in the triple jump at the United States Olympic Trials. His leap of 55-6.50 (16.93m) is ranked fourth nationally, and puts him in contention for one of three spots on the U.S. Olympic Team. Although his momentum and confidence are high going in to the trials, he acknowledges there is still much work to be done in order for him to make the team.
"I really need to work on maintaining my speed through my whole triple jump, and I need to work on my landing a lot," said Wilson. "I feel like there's a lot that I need to work on and a lot that I can do better.
In the weeks leading up to the trials, Wilson will continue to train at IU with current coach Wayne Pate. The two will work on his take off and landing, and bringing his jump up to speed with new techniques they have implemented, which will add extra length to his jump. That extra distance might be enough to propel him into a spot on the Olympic Team and help him achieve another goal, jumping over 17 meters, which he hopes to attain before summer's end.
"I still feel like I can jump a lot farther," said Wilson, who prays before each jump. "Nobody in school history has ever jumped 17 meters. I want to put the school record out of reach. I don't want anybody thinking they can touch my record."
Hearing him speak with such confidence, one wouldn't think he fell into the sport by "default." Wilson, who was a three-sport athlete in high school, made the switch to track and field after a brief stint in baseball. It was his football coach that helped introduce Wilson to the sport that would lead him to a scholarship at IU. He wanted Wilson to compete in track and field to help improve his speed and quickness for football. However, if running was something his coach wanted him to do; he was in for a surprise.
"I was not the most enthusiastic towards going out and running 400 repeats and 300 repeats in practice, so I ended up migrating to the jumps where I didn't have to run as much," said Wilson of his decision to specialize in jumps. "I've never been the fastest guy alive, so I wasn't really left with that many options after making state [as a freshman] in the jumps; and there's no way I could've made state in any sprints. It kind of made my decision easy."
That decision has brought Wilson to where he is now. With the Olympic Trials and his senior year ahead, the best is yet to come for this talented jumper.
"I don't feel like I've gotten my big jump yet," said Wilson. "I feel like it's coming."