Reggie Nelson didn’t want any part in a tiebreaker.
Thanks to a clutch jump, it wasn’t necessary.
The Coastal Carolina senior was one of 10 performers to clear 6 feet, 11 3/4 inches on the first try in the high jump competition at the NCAA East Preliminary Round at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday, securing a spot in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships next month.
By clearing it on his first try, Nelson avoided a logjam that decided the final few spots for nationals.
“I was counting them down and when it got down to 10 [who made it on their first try] I was relieved,” Nelson said. “Then I was relaxing more. I was very focused and just making sure I executed.”
The decisive jump helped erase any doubt after Nelson missed his first attempt at 6-8 earlier in the competition.
“It was a big relief because I was a little shaky at lower heights,” Nelson said. “I had to be patient and execute. It really relieved a lot of pressure. Then I knew it was another trip to Oregon.”
Nelson will be making his second trip to Eugene, Oregon, to compete in nationals June 12th, and CCU coach Jeff Jacobs believes his athlete has still has more left in the tank.
“When it went to 6-11 3/4 that was by far his best jump of the competition. He cleared it easily,” Jacobs said. “There was still more there. It was another great competition.
“He’s worked so hard all year long. I’m so proud of him for what he’s done.”
Nelson tied for 19th at last year’s meet, clearing 6-10 3/4. Arizona State’s Bryan McBride won the event after clearing 7-5 3/4.
“I definitely believe he can go higher,” Jacobs said of Nelson. “At the [Big South] meet he made a great attempt at 7-2. He just barely kicked bar with his heel. He was really over it. He cleared that last attempt [Friday] pretty substantially. There’s a couple more inches there. I definitely believe there’s a higher jump left.”
Nelson believes having been to nationals once before will give him an advantage this time around.
“I know what to expect now,” he said. “I’m not taking anything for granted and I’m going to give it my best. I’ve been there once so I know what I have to do. I just need to execute every step of the way.”
Said Jacobs: “I think just knowing the facility, the track and the trip – it’s a very long trip – and having the familiarity with it will definitely help him. He’s been so consistent all year long. I feel like he’ll do very well in that situation.”
Nelson is hoping to have company with him this year. A year ago he was the only Chant to qualify, becoming the seventh men’s performer in program history to do so. Twelve athletes and two relays have qualified from the women’s side in past years.
Several Chants failed to qualify during the first two days, and one individual and a relay team will compete Saturday.
On the women’s side, Chloe White finished 21st (tops among freshmen) in the javelin (130-4), Christina Davis placed 41st (1:00.78) and Jessica Gelibert (46th (1:03.07) in the 400-meter hurdles, and Letitia Saayman finished 41st in the 10,000 meters (36:45.92) on Thursday. Gelibert finished 32nd in the 100-meter hurdles (13.62) on Friday.
On the men’s side, Alex Hass finished 28th in the 100 meters (10.57) Thursday and 29th in the 200 (21.35) on Friday. Kahlim Denmark placed 38th in the 100 (10.68) on Thursday, and Desmond Wallace (110m hurdles, 32nd, 14.23) and Therius Styles (200m, 38th, 21.60) competed Friday.
Amirah Al-Bayyinah (women’s triple jump) and the men’s 400-meter relay team – Denmark, Hass, DeAndra Lipscomb and Styles – compete Saturday and represent the Chants’ final two chances to give Nelson company at nationals.
“It would be great,” Nelson said of having more CCU performers at the meet. “It was a great experience last year, but I got a little lonely. It would be great to have the team there with me. I can support them and they can support me. I’d love to be cheering them on out there.”
While that prospect is undetermined, one thing is for sure: Nelson will once again be sporting CCU teal at nationals.
“It’s a blessing. It’s really a blessing,” Nelson said. “The coaching staff is there for me, the training staff is there for me. The school is really behind me. It’s great to get a chance to go out on top and get another shot at a national title.”
Contact DAVID WETZEL at 626-0295. Follow sports news on Twitter @MYBSports.