Chadron State College track and field standout Isaac Grimes will be striving to demonstrate once again that he’s one of NCAA Division II’s outstanding jumpers this week during the National Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Kingsville, Texas.
Grimes won the long jump gold medal and the triple jump silver medal during the National Indoor Championships in Pittsburg, Kan., in March. Now, he’ll have the opportunity to at least duplicate those lofty honors. The men’s long jump will begin at 6:20 p.m. Thursday and the triple jump will start at 4:45 p.m. Friday.
After his spectacular performances in March, he was selected the Men’s National Division II Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association.
Although hamstring issues have plagued the sophomore from Moreno Valley, Calif., at times this season, he will go to the national meet with the third best long jump during the regular season. It is 7.80 meters, or 25 feet, 7 ¼ inches. His winning jump at the National Indoor Meet measured 25-8 ¾, but he had gone a career-best 26-1 at the start of the season and no one from Division II ever matched it.
The leader heading into Thursday’s competition is Dyshon Vaughn, a freshman at Texas A&M-Kingsville, the national meet host. Vaughn's best jump went 8.03 meters or 26-3 1/2. Second on the list is sophomore Ryan Brown of Lincoln College in Missouri at 25-11. Grimes is third and Marcus Klein, a junior from Northwest Missouri State, is fourth at 25-5 ¼, two inches shy of Grimes’ best.
The story is different in the triple jump. Because of his tender hamstring, Grimes never entered the event during the regular outdoor season; couldn’t even compete at the RMAC Championships because he had no outdoor mark.
That meant he had to wait until the “last minute,” a last chance meet at Nebraska-Kearney on Sunday, May 12, to get a mark. He jumped 15.03 meters, or 49-3 ¾, good enough for 20th in the national list and one of the two final spots awarded to qualify him for nationals.
The triple jump lead of 16.03 meters, or 52-6 ¾, belongs to Abraham Seaneke, a senior at West Texas A&M. Brown, the Lincoln College whiz, is second at 52-6 and Matt Bowen, a senior at the University of San Diego, is third at 51-7 ¾.
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That means Grimes will have a lot of ground to make up when he triple jumps on Friday if he is to earn a medal. But he was 11th in the pre-meet standings entering the National Indoor Championships. His best prior to nationals was 49-3 ¾, exactly the same as the recent mark that qualified him to compete at the outdoor nationals. But he went about 2 ½ feet farther and placed second in the event at 51-8 ½.
No other Chadron State athlete has ever won both gold and silver medals at a National Meet.
Chadron State Coach Riley Northrup said he has learned never to bet against Grimes when the chips are down and he’s healthy.
“I’m never surprised by how well he jumps,” Northrup said. “He has the talent and the knack for doing amazing things.”
However, this week’s national meet will probably be the last time Grimes will compete for the Eagles. He has told Northrup that he is planning to transfer to Florida State University this coming fall.
His move is the same as the Eagles’ other national champion jumper, Demarcus Simpson, made after spending two years with the Eagles and then transferring to the University of Oregon.
Simpson was the long jump runner-up at the NCAA II National Indoor Meets as both a freshman and a sophomore in 2015 and 2016 and then won the event at the outdoor championships both years. He continued to excel after joining the Ducks and will be bidding to qualify in the long jump at the Olympic Trials in 2020.