Sports

SIUE’s Harvey to compete in U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials

News-Democrat

After placing 11th and earning second team All-American honors in the long jump at the NCAA Division I Championships earlier this month, Edwardsville native Julian Harvey returns to Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. this Saturday.

Only this time there is a little more at stake.

The reigning Ohio Valley Conference indoor champion, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Harvey will compete in the United States Track and Field Olympic Trials in the long jump beginning with the prelimininary round on Saturday at 3:45 p.m.

Harvey and Brittney Gibbs, of the SIUE women’s track and field team, have added their marks to the international stage since the NCAA season ended. Harvey and Gibbs have qualified for the U.S. and Canadian Olympic Trials, respectively.

“I’m proud of them, and I’ve worked hard to give them the best training and coaching I can, but it means nothing without them committing to attaining greatness,” said SIUE Jumps Coach Joey Pacione. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they rose up at the perfect time.”

A senior at SIUE, Harvey qualified with a leap of 25 feet, 10 3/4 inches when he won the Ohio Valley Conference championship. A 2013 graduate of Edwardsville where he earned three Class 3A State Track and Field medals, Harvey is the 22nd seed entering the competition.

Should Harvey place in the top 12 in the preliminaries on Saturday, he would advance to the finals on Sunday beginning at 6:15 p.m.

Pacione said Harvey has proven he can compete with the elite jumpers in the nation.

“This shows his capabilities are up there with anyone in the country,” said Pacione. “My hope is that we can use this as a building block into next year. This season has been a stepping stone for him to realize that he belongs in the conversation with the best in the country. I’m excited to see what competing next to professionals will do for his confidence.”

Gibbs added to the success of the jumping squad by qualifying for the Canadian Olympic Trials in the triple jump with a mark of 41-8.75, which she recorded at the NCAA West Preliminaries. She enters the trials seeded second.

“She had an injury-riddled freshman year and this shows how talented she is once we got her healthy,” said Pacione. “I’m excited that this is the beginning for her. She improved by 18 inches from last year to this year and was a great recruit. She’s going to keep the momentum of our program going.”

The Canadian Olympic Trials are held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Gibbs will compete in the finals July 9 at 1 p.m. CT.

“This will be huge for the national recognition for our program,” said Pacione. “People who see our jersey will realize we have huge goals and expectations here. Any athlete coming here will have big shoes to fill and higher standards. When the expectations are higher, the performances come along with it.”

Belleville native and former Belleville East standout Adoree Jackson will also compete in the long jump. Jackson is a football and track and field standout at the University of Southern California (USC).

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