By Calvin Bass, Wayland Baptist (Texas) Athletic Department
PLAINVIEW, Texas - The powerhouse that is the Wayland Baptist University (Texas) track and field program now can boast of yet another great accomplishment, this time vicariously in the form of Wayne Northover.
Wayland's track and field program has produced 14 team national championships and 256 individual national champions, among the latest being Northover at the 2014 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The incoming senior from Kingston, Jamaica, won both the triple jump with a mark of 50 feet, 11.5 inches and the long jump with a mark of 24 feet, 4.25 inches. Claiming the triple jump and long jump titles set Northover up to be named the 2014 Most Outstanding Male Performer at the outdoor championships.
Northover’s performance at the NAIA Championships helped qualify him for the Jamaican Senior Championships. At that prestigious meet, which was held from June 26-29 in Kingston, Northover finished third in the triple jump with a leap of 15.83 meters (51 feet, 11.25 inches) to earn a spot on the 2014 Jamaican Commonwealth Games squad.
“It is really an honor to make the senior national team, but more than that, the Jamaican Senior team,” WBU head track and field coach Rohan Thompson said. “The Jamaican track team is a powerhouse, and Wayne will be teammates with the likes of Usain Bolt and Warren Weir.”
Bolt holds world records in the 100m and 200m (the first man to do so since automatic time measurements in 1977) and holds six Olympic gold medals. Weir won the bronze medal in the 200m at the 2012 London Games while winning silver in the 200m and gold in the 4x100m at the 2013 World Championships.
Now Northover, one of Wayland’s own, is joining their ranks.
“I can’t say enough about how big of a deal this is,” Thompson reiterated. “This really is a great honor for Wayne.
“This is really all about Wayne and the hard work he has put in to earn this accomplishment, but this is also a great honor for Wayland. I can’t remember the last time Wayland had an athlete compete at this level.”
Thompson explained that apart from the Olympics and the World Championships, the Commonwealth Games is the highest level of competition for a track and field athlete. The international event is held every four years for athletes in the Commonwealth nations, beginning in 1930. This year, the games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23 to Aug. 3 and will feature 6,500 athletes from 71 countries.
Making it to Glasgow to compete in the Commonwealth Games is no easy task, but because of Northover’s hard work he landed a spot on what will be the premier team at the event.
“I’m really excited and proud of Wayne for making the Jamaican national team after all the hard work that he’s put in,” Thompson beamed. “Wayne’s success shows that you don’t have to go to a big school to be successful. You have to work hard and do what’s asked of you, and that determines how far you go.
“Wayne is a perfect example of that. He’s a great athlete and works hard and always does what I ask of him.”
When asked where this leaves Wayland on the map, Thompson was quick to push credit back to Northover, but said WBU is in great shape because of what he’s accomplished.
“Wayne’s accomplishment shows that we’re doing things right if we have a guy that is selected to a national team, especially the Jamaican national team,” the coach said. “More importantly, though, it shows that it doesn’t matter where you run track in college. It comes down to being able to work hard and doing what your coach asks of you.
“This is a tribute to Wayne’s hard work. He’s done everything that I’ve asked, and I’m very, very proud of him.”
For a small, private school in the Panhandle of Texas, Wayland Baptist is leaving a big mark on the world of track and field.
(The 2014 Commonwealth Games will be televised on the British Broadcasting Channel as well as the BBC Sport website.)