Alexis Perry sensed it was a good long jump, maybe one of her best at N.C. State, maybe the best.
Turns out, she was right. With a leap of 21 feet, 6.75 inches in the Virginia Challenge last week in Charlottesville, Va., the Wolfpack senior not only set a school record but posted a mark that was the best in the NCAA this spring but has since been bettered.
One of the first to congratulate Perry was the Pack’s Jonathan Addison, one of the NCAA’s best men’s long jumpers.
“He brought up the fact that, ‘You might want to check the Olympic Trials mark because I think you may have hit it,’” Perry said, smiling. “I didn’t even look at it. I let him look at it. I knew when he didn’t say anything I had more than likely hit it.”
The qualifying mark for the women’s long jump is 6.5 meters. Perry topped it. In July, she and Addison will be going to Eugene, Ore., for the U.S. Olympic Trials, with a chance to go to Rio for the Big Show later this year.
“It’s more than likely going to be the biggest competition of my life,” she said. “I’ll be there with many elite athletes. It’s definitely going to be a great opportunity.”
But before that, there are other things to attend to – for Perry and Addison. There are the ACC Championships hosted by Florida State, then the NCAA East Preliminary. The 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships also will be held in June at Hayward Field in Eugene.
There’s another important event next week: N.C. State graduation. Perry will graduate with a degree in Nutrition Science and Addison in Industrial Engineering.
Addison, a senior from Raleigh, is a four-time All-ACC Academic team selection. He recently was named the ACC’s Scholar Athlete of the Year for a second time in men’s track and field, and has earned an ACC postgraduate scholarship.
“I really persevered,” Addison said. “All the work I’ve done over the years is really coming together and showing itself in this degree.”
Our coach says we don’t get the same 24 hours in the day as most other students, so you have to do the same amount with less hours.
N.C. State’s Alexis Perry
Perry, from Durham, has twice been named to the All-ACC Academic team and said blending athletics and academics was a matter of sacrifice and time management.
“Our coach says we don’t get the same 24 hours in the day as most other students, so you have to do the same amount with less hours,” Perry said.
Addison and Perry are like many college athletes, those who don’t have 50,000 in the stands cheering for them, who don’t have Mel Kiper Jr. on ESPN extolling their draft value. They put in hours of training and enjoy the competition while realizing they soon will put their sport aside and move on with their lives.
Addison, who attended Enloe High, said he has a job lined up with the Eaton Corporation but may attend graduate school. Perry, a former standout at Jordan High, said she has been accepted into the Teach For America program and would like to work with lower-income students.
But everything is on hold for now.
In addition to the long jump, Perry had a season-best time of 13.15 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles in the Virginia Challenge.
Addison has competed in the 100 meters and 4x100 relay for the Pack while winning the 2015 ACC Indoor title in the high jump. But the long jump is his favorite.
Addison earned All-America honors in the long jump at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor and was runner-up in this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Ala. He qualified for the Olympic Trials during the Virginia Tech Elite in early February with a school-record jump of 8.17 meters.
“I’m trying to prove myself, to put myself into position to jump well at nationals and carry that momentum into the Olympic trials as well,” Addison said.
Perry’s big leap at Charlottesville was something of a surprise. Wolfpack assistant coach Chris Coleman, who works with the jumpers, said she has had problems with her stride this year.
“She has been struggling,” Coleman said. “Her timing has been off.”
But not at Virginia. In the long jump, where improvement often is measured in fractions of inches, Perry topped her previous best by 4.75 inches.
“Amazing,” Addison said. “A PR (personal record) sometimes can come out of nowhere. Practicing with her all the time and seeing her working for it and seeing it come to fruition was really cool.”
For long jumpers, a good jump is the product of proper technique, speed down the runway and explosiveness off the mark.
“You have to be fast and you have to be under control and then you have to convert all of your momentum into vertical and horizontal momentum to go as far as you can,” Addison said.
The two Wolfpack jumpers do it well. It has gotten them into the U.S. Olympic Trials. What about Rio and the Olympics?
“That’s a long shot,” Coleman said. “They only take three jumpers on each team. But you never know. It’s about making the right jump on the right day.”