One day after teammate Olivia Askew (SR/Munster, Ind.) wrapped up her collegiate track career, Demetrius Banks (JR/Hazelcrest, Ill.) took his first shot on the sports grand stage. Though surface conditions were less than ideal, Banks powered through and came away with a top ten spot for his efforts at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala on Friday evening.
Overnight rain had left the infield soggy, making it tough for athletes that start their approach further back to gain decent traction. Regardless, Banks sailed over the initial bar, clearing the 1.97m mark in his first attempt. The next mark proved to be tougher, but still not an issue. After two failed attempts, Banks cleared the 2.02m level that got him to nationals, advancing him to the third round. That would be where the journey ended however, as the 2.05m height proved to be too much. Banks would hit the bar on all three attempts, ending his season. His effort throughout the three rounds was good enough to be named tenth best in the country, a mark that he will look to improve next season.
"It was alright, but it could have been better…just a little bit," said Banks after his day was done. As for what he thought nationals was going to be like? "I don't even have the words for it. It was a really nervous atmosphere though, but got better with each cleared bar."
"I thought the last two weeks of practice, and the way he went about those practices, set himself up for a good opportunity to be named an All-American," said director of operations Rick Torres. "However, today was just one of those things where you get to the national championship for the first time, and there is a lot of things that you have to work on outside of jumping. There's the days leading up to it, the waiting while at the track, the elements, and a lot of other things. But I'm especially proud of him because he came in ranked 18th out of 21 jumpers, and ended up being better than 11 others in the field."
Banks will return to the team next year for one more season, and Torres can see bright things in his future. "He now knows what he is up against, and I'm sure that he is going to work a lot harder at this now. He sees that just with a little more work, he really can be an elite jumper in the NAIA. I'm really proud of him, and am looking forward to next year." Banks goal for next year on the other hand? "Clear seven feet. If we can get seven feet and up, that would be great. "
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