Texas sophomore O’Brien Wasome categorized his unusual Friday at the Texas Relays with the confident wisdom of someone who knows what it takes to reach the pinnacle — and how to stay there.
In his first outdoor event of the season, Wasome — the recently-crowned NCAA indoor national champion in the triple jump — fouled on his first two attempts and finished 10th, measuring 47-3 on his third try at Mike Myers Stadium. Matthew O’Neal, who competed unattached, won the event at 54-5 1/4.
It was an uncharacteristic performance for Wasome, who appeared no worse for wear three weeks after producing a school-record and career-best leap of 55-2.25 in becoming the best triple jumper in college track.
“I had good jumps,” he said Friday. “My first jump, I was just over the board. My second jump was really good, (but) I was still over the board. The third jump, I had a bad run and I just chopped up and fell out of it, basically. It wasn’t a bad day. It was a pretty good day for me,” said Wasome, who led off the Longhorns’ 400-meter relay team a few hours earlier.
“It’s not like I went out there and did a complete jump and went through all the phases and jumped bad,” Wasome continued. “The wind was a factor. (During) Warmups, it kind of picked up back and forth. I went back a lot for my approach. You have to be patient in each phase to get to the (next) phase. You can’t be patient and not attack. You have to put a lot of force in the ground.”
After studying his record-setting performance at the NCAA championships, Wasome said he realized something. Despite winning at the highest level, he still has room for improvement.
“Sometimes I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m actually the national champion.’ Somedays it’s like, ‘I’m the national champ, I need to find ways to get better.’
“My jump, looking at my technique, I robbed myself of a lot of distance,” he said. “It won’t take a lot to go further.”
Wasome received his first taste of being the hunted, rather than the hunter. His competition on Friday included third-place finisher Chengetayi Mapaya of TCU, who also finished third in the NCAA indoor championships while placing third to Wasome’s second-place finish at the Big 12 indoor championships.
“We all talk. I don’t think they look at me different,” Wasome said. “It’s more like, ‘OK, he beat us; we’re going to compete again. You ain’t going to do it the next time.’”