April 26, 2011
Lobo Track -- Next Meet The Mountain West Outdoor Championships
May 11-14 at Colorado State, Fort Collins, Colo.
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
As far as Lobo jumpers go, Warrick Campbell is a bit different than his jump mates. He's not battling a nagging pain or a major muscle tear, and he doesn't know any surgeons by their first name.
What these four New Mexico jumpers do have in common is a whole lot of talent and a whole lot of potential. "We have one of the best jump programs around, especially considering how young we are," said Smith.
Spencer and Smith came to UNM in the fall of 2009, but are freshmen in eligibility for the 2011 season because of their injuries. Campbell and Brown are true freshmen.
"I think this is one of the best jump groups in the country," said Lobo Coach Joe Franklin. "Now, they have to go out and make steady progress and not get greedy. It's a sport where you have to accept improvement in small increments and be happy with that."
For Spencer, Smith and Brown, it's not so much a case of greed as it is a case of frustration and restlessness. They are coming back from injuries that slowed that incremental growth. They are impatient to return to top form.
But they are getting better and still performing at a solid level. Spencer has the top long jump in the Mountain West, so far, at 24-8.25. Brown is in the No. 4 spot (23-4.50) and Smith is No. 10 (23-1.25).
Campbell is No. 2 in the triple jump at 51-0 and Brown is No. 7 at 48-1.25.
"There is friendly competition in this group," said Franklin. "They are very supportive of each other. They all want each other to do well and that's not always common in this sport.
"These guys also are building a future for our jump program. When we got Kendall and Zach, that helped us get Dave and Warrick. Now, we are becoming a program that athletes can look at and know they can come here and get better.
"And you can always find a tailwind in Albuquerque."
Warrick Campbell - FRESHMAN - HOMETOWN: ALBUQUERQUE
In a move to show off his foot speed - and beat -- a Highland High buddy, Lobo Warrick Campbell learned something else. He loves to jump.
"My friend, Rolando Trammel, and I were talking after school and he told me he was the fastest man around," said Campbell, a New Mexico freshman. "I told him, `Man, you can not beat me in a race.' He told me to come out for track and we'd find out. I went out and kept on running."
You could say Campbell ran all the way to UNM - or maybe that should be jumped all the way to UNM. Campbell was pretty fast as a Hornet running for Hive Coach Gary Sanchez, but jumping just seemed to be his thing.
And did Campbell ever beat Trammel, who went on to run for Boise State? Well, not at first and not always.
"I came out and he whipped up on me pretty good, and that made me want to practice more and get better," said Campbell. "I ended up breaking his school record in the triple jump."
Trammel was a good athlete to chase. He won Class 5A state titles in the 300-meter high hurdles, the 110 hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump. Possibly, it was Trammel's speed that convinced Campbell to run a longer distance at Highland High.
"I started off running the 800," said Campbell. "Then I'd go jump. Jumpers don't do the 800 much. I had more success in jumping and it was more fun."
Campbell said the biggest adjustment at the D-I level is the vast talent fields the Lobos jump against. "You don't come into college as the best and you have to deal with the highs and the lows," said Campbell, who has the No. 2 triple jump in the MWC so far this season at 51-0. "I've been improving, but I'm not yet where I want to be."
Zach Smith - FRESHMAN - HOMETOWN: KENT, WASH.
Zachary Smith came to New Mexico, in part, because he was following some footsteps laid down by his older sister, Brittany, who was a three-year letterwinner/jumper at UNM.
"The coaches heard about me and started recruiting me, but it also was a good fit," said Smith. "And the weather is a whole lot better."
Yeah, the landing pits in Washington can get a bit damp. But what put a damper on Smith's jumping career at UNM is knee surgery - one to the left side, one to the right side.
For sure, that's been a challenge for an athlete, who was a national champion and a national runner-up in high school.
"Surgery and rehab is a tough thing," said Smith. "But when track becomes a part of your life, you are determined to come back. It's tough looking back at where I was (in high school) and where I'm at now, but I know I'll get back up there. I just need to put in some hard work."
Smith's first injury came during the first meet of 2010 during the triple jump. He hurt it on the first touch down. "I tried to keep it going, but there wasn't much of a second phase that day," he said.
Smith is bypassing the triple jump this season to spare the pounding on his knees. He competed in the long jump last week at Cal-Berkeley and went 22-8.00. He went 22-11 to win the 2009 Nike Nationals.
"I gained about 15 pounds after surgery and my leg strength isn't close to where it used to be," said Smith. "I haven't really had a lot of time to train. But I'm confident that I'll put in the work and be back up there."
David Brown -- FRESHMAN - HOMETOWN: CAMERON, TEXAS.
David Brown keeps having good accidents on the track. This humble Lobo, who came in second at the Cal-Berkeley meet with a jump of 23-4.50, says, "I accidentally got good at jumping."
Brown credits a brother for turning his head away from football and basketball and giving that track stuff a shot. "He just told me to give it a try," said Brown. "I ran the 800 relay in high school, but loved to jump."
The track was a semi-dramatic jump for Brown, who grew up playing basketball and football. He thinks he might have had a future with college football, if he had concentrated on that sport and buffed up at bit. "But I liked track a lot better," he said.
Brown had added about two feet to his long jump since his prep days at Cameron. He is getting better at the triple jump, too, finishing sixth at Berkeley with a leap of 45-05.00. He went over 49 feet in high school.
"I like the technical aspects of the triple jump," he said. "When it is done correctly, it looks so beautiful. You can never be too fast or too strong or too technical.
"I haven't had that perfect jump yet, but I'm working on it."
Brown is yet another Lobo battling injury. His hurt is minor, but it's still in a bad place for a jumper - the heel. He came up with that injury in UNM's indoor season.
Oh, yeah, coach Franklin has a nickname for Brown "We call him Dancing Dave," said Franklin.
Kendall Spencer -- FRESHMAN - HOMETOWN: SAN MATEO, CALIF.
A funny thing happened to Lobo Kendall Spencer on his way to collegiate football fame. His mother saw more glory on the track. And doesn't mother always know best?
"Mom told me my football team wasn't that good and she convinced me to perfect my gift," said Spencer. "I was begging her to let me play football again because I had just discovered how fast I was. I couldn't wait to get back on the football field."
Football had to wait. But track had to wait, too. When Spencer played football at San Mateo High, he often looked over at the track guys running and was thankful not to be there. "I was thinking, `You'll never get me on a track.'"
Spencer's ticket to track came his junior year when a friend pulled up lame and the team needed a healthy leg on the 4x100 relay team. "They also threw me in the long jump and the 200 meters, just for kicks," said Spencer. "I won on all three of them.
"My form on the jump was horrible. I just ran down the runway as fast as I could and jumped as far as I could. In the 200, I didn't know how to use the blocks. I took off from a three-point stance. People were laughing until I won."
Spencer kept winning and colleges started writing. He set school marks in the 100, 200 and long jump and became the first athlete to sweep those events at the California Central Coast Section.
Spencer is a redshirt freshman outdoors having torn a hamstring prior to the 2010 season. "It was a pretty bad tear," he said. "I came to college thinking I was invincible and I thought I could run through anything. Something just popped. But I've come back stronger than ever."
Spencer has the top mark in the Mountain West so far this season in the long jump at 24-8.25. "My hamstring is maybe 75 percent," he said. "I'm not at full sprint yet, but I'm getting out there on my jumps. I'm excited to see what I can do when I really bring it down the runway 100 percent. A big jump is coming."