USC's Adoree' Jackson came to historic Hayward Field, the mecca of track and field in the United States, in search of a lifetime-best long jump that would qualify him for next month's U.S. Olympic trials.
Jackson failed to qualify, and he failed to set a personal record. He did not, however, fail to maintain his sense of humor.
"It was probably the worst performance ever," Jackson said with a sheepish grin after he placed fifth Wednesday night at the NCAA championships.
Jackson was exaggerating, of course. In fact, the Serra High graduate matched his fifth-place finish of a year ago, though his 25-foot, 13/4-inch jump Wednesday fell short of the 25-111/2 personal best he set at last year's NCAA meet in Eugene.
"The run-through was fine," Jackson said, "it's just off the board everything was a disaster. … I just rushed everything."
The Olympic trials are open to the top 24 qualifiers in the long jump. Anyone jumping 26-5 qualifies automatically.
Jackson, a three-way threat on the Trojans' football team as a defensive back, receiver and kick returner, said he would try to find other meets to enter before the trials take place July 1-10 at Hayward Field.
UCLA's Nicholas Scarvelis and Braheme Days placed in the top five in the shotput.
Scarvelis, who had the No. 1 qualifying mark of 66-41/4, took fourth at 66-21/4. The senior from Santa Barbara earned his first medal in his fourth trip to nationals. Days came in fifth at 65-83/4.
Freshman Rai Benjamin gave the Bruins a boost when he earned the eighth (and last) qualifying spot in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. Benjamin clocked 49.84 seconds.
Two-time defending champion Oregon, the host school, was the first-day leader with 19 points. The Ducks were spurred by 10,000-meter champion Edwin Cheserek, a junior who has won 14 NCAA indoor and outdoor titles. Suleiman Nyambui of Texas El Paso holds the record of 15.
Six finals were held Wednesday, all for men. Women compete Thursday and Saturday (plus Friday for heptathletes).
The men finish Friday, except for decathletes, who wrap up two days of competition Thursday.
Jackson, one of only four USC men at the meet, was the Trojans' only scorer Wednesday.
USC holds the all-time men's records of 26 team titles and 116 individual championships.
Texas A&M freshman Donavan Brazier may have delivered Wednesday's most impressive performance. Brazier's 1:45.07 time in the 800 semifinals ranks second in U.S. Junior Division (19-and-under) history. Only the legendary Jim Ryun has run faster. … Attendance was 9,201 under partly sunny skies.
The third-ranked Oregon men and sixth-ranked Oregon women will be hard pressed to repeat as team champions. The women's chances were hurt when talented sprinter-jumper Jasmine Todd recently left the team. The Ducks and Todd have declined to offer an explanation.