by Benny Benton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Barton College junior Larry Russell claimed third place in the long jump at the 2018 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday, and in doing so earned his fourth overall track All-American honor.
Russell was also a third-place finisher in last year's outdoor national meet, and placed fifth earlier this year in the indoor nationals. He first earned All-American status in the high jump at the 2017 indoor nationals with an eighth-place showing.
The Sicklerville, N.J., resident entered Thursday's event ranked 15th on the national performance list in the long jump with a season-best mark of 7.44 meters. After an opening effort of 7.28 meters and a foul on his second attempt, Russell produced a mark of 7.43 meters on his final attempt of the first round, the second-best mark in his flight.
With the higher seeded jumpers in flight two, Russell and his fans went through some anxious moments waiting to see if his mark would hold up among the top nine for him to reach the finals. He remained fourth after the first attempts of flight two, but slipped to seventh place after the second attempts. He dropped one more spot to eighth on the final attempts, but remained there to qualify for the finals.
After a foul on his first attempt of the finals, Russell pulled off his best jump of the season on the second try, leaping 7.55 meters, or 24 feet, 9 1/4 inches, to move all the way up to second place. He was bumped back to third before the round was over, but was not challenged further during the third and final attempts.
Charles Greaves, a senior from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, wrestled the runner-up spot away from Russell with a leap of 7.88 meters. Minnesota State University Moorhead senior Brian Huber followed that outstanding jump with an even better one, soaring to a mark of 7.98 meters, just over 26 feet, to win the national title in his final collegiate meet.
Russell, who completed his junior year with the meet, finished just ahead of fourth-place Anton Epps of Queens University (7.52 meters) and fifth-place Isaac Grimes of Chadron State College (7.48 meters).
Russell's third-place result gave Barton six team points towards the national championship. With the long jump being one of the first events completed in the three-day meet, the score kept Barton's name on the leaderboard all day. With no other qualifiers in the meet, that will change by Friday, but for now both Russell and Barton remain in the national spotlight.