Greencastle, Ind. – March 12, 2010 - Senior long jumper Julius Higginbotham (Elyria, Ohio / Elyria) of the Heidelberg University men’s track and field team leaped to a third place finish in the long jump at the 2010 Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships. DePauw University is the host institution of the championships in Greencastle, Ind.
This marks Higginbotham’s fourth trip to the NCAA Championships and his first time earning All-American honors. “I came in today confident,” Higginbotham said. “It is a blessing to make it to Nationals four times. I showed up four times but hadn’t been All-American. Once I found out I placed third it was a big relief. With my coaches, friends, family and school showing support and confidence that was a huge part of me jumping good. It was a combination of support, years of experience at Nationals, hard work and determination.”
Higginbotham saved his best jump for last leaping 23’0 which moved him up four places from seventh to third. Due to his effort in the finals the Heidelberg senior became the fourth All-American in the history of the men’s indoor track and field program. Last year he missed All-American status by one spot.
Higginbotham assured himself a place in the finals with a mark of 22’5.75 on his first jump of the day.
With one attempt remaining in the finals, Higginbotham had yet to outjump his mark from the preliminary. However, the veteran jumper was determined not to be on the outside looking in. After Illinois College’s DJ Jackson jumped 22’6.25 to push Higginbotham down the list, he revisited his goals.
“I had one more jump in the finals,” Higginbotham said. “The jumper in front of me’s last jump knocked me into seventh place, and I looked at the guys around me and I looked at Coach Roberts and looked at the fans, and I knew I had to live up to my expectations and my capabilities. I knew it only takes one good jump. I couldn’t get down on myself. I could have given up and been eighth or ninth, but I knew I made it to Nationals for a reason. Once I made it I wanted to win, I’m not just here to make it.”
Higginbotham’s pressure to be All-American was lifted when Rowan University’s Kyle Hayes took himself out of contention with his last jump, assuring Higginbotham a spot on the podium. He then shifted his sights on a national title.
“Before the meet all Julius could talk about was becoming an All-American,” said head coach Keith Roberts. “Knowing he was an All-American going into his last jump put Julius at ease. We made some adjustments on the runway for his last attempt and went for a big one (jump). I am very proud of how he competed. It’s not often that people have the opportunity to win on their last jump, but somebody like Julius who is so competitive, he thrives on a situation like that. At conference he won on his last jump, and at Nationals he passed four competitors on his last jump. Having someone like that to coach, someone who can rise to the challenge is a dream. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
During the regular season, Higginbotham defended his third-straight OAC championship. He matched his season’s best with a NCAA Provisional Qualifying mark of 7.06m (23’2.).
In preliminary track action, Heidelberg senior Judy Bataille ran 7.10 to advance to the 55-meter-dash final scheduled for Saturday. Bataille enters the finals as the two-time defending national champion. “I felt good warming up today,” Bataille said. “It was probably the best I’ve felt this year. My time was strong but I’m looking to do better tomorrow. My start wasn’t good but the middle of my race was good. My starts have been good in practice this week, so I think going sub-7 is possible. I’m not nervous this year, because I’m running to run a personal best instead of running to win. I would love to win three national championships though.”