Dec. 9, 2005
The Yale men's indoor track & field season got off to a fine start with many great Bulldog performances at the Dec. 4 Lidlifter Invite at Coxe Cage. While the new Frank Shorter Track has begun to produce times that are turning heads, the infield will have its share of significant stats as Yale jumpers such as Jihad Beauchman rise toward the famous glass ceiling.
Beauchman, a senior who won the Lidlifter triple jump with a 14.81-meter landing, has taken off on the school record books since arriving in New Haven from San Jose, Calif. And those record books had been accumulating a lot of dust when his draft cleaned them off.
Beauchman, also excelling in the classroom with a 3.6 GPA and a major in economics, currently owns the Yale indoor records for the high jump and triple jump as well as the outdoor mark in the high jump. But there is one school standard that he is chasing, and it's one of the oldest in the sport at Yale. The outdoor triple jump record has carried the name Calvin Hill, the former collegiate and National Football League star, for 37 years. Hill established the 51-foot, 5.25-inch mark -- which was approximately three feet shy of the world record at the time -- before leading the Elis to another gridiron title and becoming a Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys.
"That [record] is a huge goal for me," said Beauchman. "Calvin Hill is such an important figure in the history of Yale Athletics that breaking his record would be a huge accomplishment. When Mr. Hill visited Yale this fall, he was very supportive of my pursuit of his record and gave me his best wishes."
"Jihad is arguably the best all around jumper in the history of Yale Track & Field. Both Jihad and I expect him to challenge for the outdoor triple jump record this spring," said Dave Shoehalter, head coach of the Yale men's track & field team. "I really believe that if he would set his mind to it, he could be one of the top long jumpers in the league as well."
The Eli star came out of Bellarmine Prep as one of the most sought-after high jumpers in the nation after earning a medal in the California State Championships. But this was not his favorite sport throughout high school.
"High jump and triple jump have been my events since I started doing track my sophomore year in high school. I started track to improve my athleticism for basketball, but I found that I loved the one-on-one competitiveness of track," said Beauchman, who is heading to law school after graduation this spring. "In basketball, teammates are so important in your success, while in track, there is a direct correlation between success and the amount of effort put into training."
Successful athletes often have a role model or idol who impacts the way they train or effects their perspective on life and athletics. It took almost 16 years for someone like that to materialize for Beauchman, who was a 2005 Academic All-Ivy pick and a National Collegiate Track Coaches Association Academic All-American, but it was worth the wait.
"I learned about Jesse Owens and his performance at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin during my junior year in high school, and it had a profound affect on me," said the Bulldog senior. "The circumstances under which he performed and his ability to win four gold medals astounds me. To me, Jesse Owens represents what it means to be an athlete. The effect he had on the rest of society and the world was amazing."
Beauchman is not all about school and jumping, he is busy with important outreach activities as well. He is currently working to form a higher education conference and mentoring group to promote higher education to at-risk young black males in New Haven high schools, and he has already established the Black Men's Forum at Yale to promote community amongst African-American males on the campus.
The Davenport College resident and two-time All-East performer scored in his first outdoor Heptagonal competition and also broke the Yale freshman high jump record for that event. His aspirations have risen with his progress.
"I have three other goals... to be an Ivy League Champion, go to outdoor nationals [NCAAs] in Sacramento and I want to break seven feet in the high jump," said Beauchman, who missed making the NCAA Championships by one place but broke a 15-year-old school record (6-11) in that event last spring at the regionals at Icahn Stadium in New York. "I really wanted to make it to nationals, so it was a little disappointing. I have finished second at Heps before, but never first, and I want an Ivy League Championship. I think my best chance is in the high jump where I was the top finisher from the Ivy League at regionals."
"As he's gotten more fit and stronger, Jihad has grown in confidence. He's got a tremendous amount of natural ability, but his success is really the product of a lot of hard work and determination," said Shoehalter. "He's out there every day striving to get better. I can count on one hand the number of practices he's missed since he's been at Yale. He finds reasons to get the work done and relishes the challenges of a hard workout. Over the years I've seen his focus improve tremendously. When he steps on the runway he's all business."
by Steve Conn, Yale Assistant AD & Sports Publicity Director
BEAUCHMAN'S BEST JUMPS
High Jump 6-10.25 1st
Triple Jump 50-4.5 1st
High Jump 6-11.0 1st
Triple Jump 50.00 2nd