Jarrion Lawson isn’t Bob Beamon, and Lawson’s winning long jump Friday was not a world record.
It was a Beamon-like moment all the same.
Lawson, an Arkansas sophomore, jumped 27 feet, 6½ inches – more than a foot-and-a-half farther than his personal record prior to Friday – and established a 2014 indoor world best in winning the men’s long jump at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
His feat got the Razorbacks, the defending men’s champions, off to a flying start.
Oregon, however, is the early leader in the men’s competition with 24 points. Stanford grabbed the women’s lead with 22.
The Ducks, who are seeking their fifth straight women’s championship, had just six points in that competition Friday but no doubt will be heard from – as will traditional men’s and women’s powers Florida and Texas A&M.
The meet concludes today at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Beamon, many will remember, jumped 29-2¼ at the 1968 Olympics – breaking the previous world record by almost 22 inches.
Lawson’s leap was almost that dramatic.
He had already set a PR of 26-3½ and was tied with Rutgers’ Corey Crawford going into the final round of jumps. Crawford actually led the competition on the strength of a longer second-best jump.
Then, Lawson knifed through the air with a jump that astonished the crowd.
“I feel great,” he said. “It’s my first time getting the title, and I’m gonna take it all in.”
New Mexico’s Kendall Spencer, the 2012 NCAA indoor champion, got the Lobos’ first point of the championships with an eighth-place jump of 25-1¾.
Spencer said he fouled on a jump that would have vaulted him much higher in the standings.
“That’s a little frustrating,” he said, “but all in all I’m extremely blessed to be here tonight.”
The Lobos also got three points in the men’s 5,000 meters via Luke Caldwell’s sixth-place finish in a race that saw Arizona’s Lawi Lalang upset by Oregon’s Edward Cheserek.
Lalang earlier had run a heat race in the mile and was attempting to win the mile, the 5,000 and the 3,000 in this meet. But he set a surprisingly torrid pace in the 5,000, and Cheserek, with the freshness of a sprinter, ran away from him in the final 300 meters.
Caldwell was running as high as third late in the race, but said: “I just maybe (kicked) slightly early, got a little bit excited. … But I’m glad I gave it a go.”
New Mexico’s Adam Bitchell finished ninth, just outside the points, in the 5,000. The Lobos’ Elmar Engholm finished eighth in his mile heat and didn’t qualify for tonight’s final.
All four UNM athletes who qualified for the meet competed Friday, so the Lobos will finish with four points.
Coach Joe Franklin isn’t complaining.
“It’s been a great day, not only for the Lobos,” Franklin said. “The crowd has been phenomenal; it’s been electric in here.”
In the women’s pole vault, Texas sophomore Kaitlin Petrillose set a collegiate record with a leap of 15-1.
Her only expectations entering the meet, Petrillose said, was “first bar, first attempt. The first bar after that, first attempt. Next bar after that, first attempt.
“I was trying to make first attempts so I could save my energy for the higher bars.”
In the men’s high jump, Florida State’s James Harris set a personal and Convention Center record with a winning leap of 7-7¼.
Harris then three times attempted to clear 7-9¾, which would have established a collegiate record. He missed each time.
The Seminoles senior competes in an unusual combination of events, the high jump and the 400 meters. Later Friday, he advanced to tonight’s 400 finals with a time of 45.9 in his heat.
“I think I like the 400 a little better, even though it hurts a little more than the high jump,” he said. “I’m just glad I can compete at this level in both of them.