When Tunkhannock Area grad Josh Colley started the indoor track and field season for Widener University, the junior had just one goal in mind — achieve All-American honors.
When the season came to a close on March 12, that goal was accomplished.
Colley claimed All-American honors with a fifth place finish in the long jump on the first day of the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships in Grinnell, Iowa on Friday, March 11.
The junior also placed ninth in the triple jump the following day and recorded a best jump of 14.24 meters (46’-8.75”).
“Getting All-American was the main thing this year, I didn’t really care about the numbers,” Colley said. “It actually took me until the last meet of indoor to make Nationals. The triple jump was just an added bonus. It was nice to break through and get fifth. It was a pretty crazy finish compared to getting ninth last year.”
Indeed, it was quite the figurative and literal jump from last year, though that experience certainly helped Colley prepare for his second time around.
“It was definitely easier,” Colley said. “I was so nervous my first time here. I was a sophomore and all the kids seemed to be seniors and bigger than me. This time I showed up as one of the biggest kids there, so that was a plus right out of the gate. I was a lot more comfortable this time and knew I would get it if I jumped 23 feet.”
Colley got it, finishing with a best mark of 7.05 meters (23’-1.75”).
He entered the event as the number 13 seed with a mark of 7.09 meters (23’-3.25”), which he managed at the ECAC Championships the weekend before to qualify
Colley jumped 7.05 meters on his second attempt of the day, which ended up being just .01 meters off of the fourth place finisher.
“I made it to Nationals by a centimeter so it evens out,” Colley said. “I had no idea if I would make it and it was really nerve racking. I was in the first flight and finished third, then found out I was fifth after the second flight went. I actually ended up with a pretty awesome jump in the finals that would have probably got third, but I fouled by about an inch. So in a way, I guess I’m a little disappointed because it could have ended better.”
The inches and centimeters that separates the competition at such a high level can be a little ming-boggling, but Colley counters that by working on a technical approach while remaining as composed as possible.
“It’s a lot of technical work and a lot of nerves,” he said. “I just tried to harp on takeoff technique and those types of things throughout the year. My main focus will be core strength the next several weeks and then getting back to technique to make sure everything is perfect.”
Colley will be back to work shortly for the Widener men’s outdoor track and field team, which is back in action on Saturday at the West Chester Open.