BRADENTON, Fla. – Mikel Smith used his career-best height to capture the 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championship title in the high jump for Saint Martin's University track & field on Friday at the IMG Academy Field.
"Winning Nationals is a great feeling," said Smith after the competition. "I went out there and dared to be great and put my soul into each jump."
Smith is SMU's only National Champion in any sport and is the only four-time All-American in Saints history. He was ranked 18th headed into the meet and competed as an underdog. He passed on 6-6 3/4 and then cleared his next four jumps on his first attempt, including a new career-best high. The junior cleared 7-1 on his first attempt, which broke the school record and Great Northwest Athletic Conference record in the high jump. The old record was set by Smith last season was 6-11 3/4. He also holds the school and conference record indoors as he became the GNAC's only 7-foot jumper at 7-0 1/2 set last season.
"I was more nervous than Mikel was today because I knew he was ready," said assistant coach Kyle Stevenson, Smith's high jump coach. "He has been real consistent in practice and through warm-ups throughout the day. Saint Martin's now has its first National Champion. It took him reaching a lifetime best."
"Absolutely amazing," said head coach Jim Brewer. "When he went over 7-1 I was pumped. Like Kyle, I knew he was ready as he went over 7-1 the day before in practice. This is a great moment for Saint Martin's Track & Field. I knew a lot of Saints will be super excited for this momentous occasion. Mikel showed a lot of class as he continued to congratulate his competitors. When the event was over every athlete and many coaches gave him a hug to show their appreciations for what Mikel accomplished. A true demonstration of great sportsmanship."
Smith is used to being the underdog as he was ranked 12th headed into the NCAA Championships indoors and was the National runner-up. He is no stranger at the NCAA Championships as he competed at his first NCAA during the 2015 indoor season and finished tied for fifth overall. During the 2015 outdoor season he finished third.
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