Drouin wins fifth NCAA high jump title

With two jumps remaining to decide the final meet of his college career, Derek Drouin decided to go all or nothing.

The Indiana senior high jumper had missed on his first attempt at 7-feet-7 inches and Kansas State’s Erik Kynard cleared it. At that point, he had to clear a greater height than Kynard to beat him because he would lose a tiebreaker on misses, but he could’ve taken his last two chances to clear 7-7 and then had three more shots to clear the next height.

Instead he went for broke, passing on his last two attempts at 7-7 and going straight to 7-8 with two chances to clear it.

“It’s only the second time I’ve ever done that,” Drouin told reporters in Eugene, Ore. “… I would’ve needed to make the next bar to win the meet anyway.”

The tactic had never worked before for Drouin, but this time it did. Drouin cleared 7-8 on his second and final try at the NCAA Championships. Kynard missed on all three of his attempts at the height and Drouin became the first ever high jumper to win five NCAA titles in the event. This is his second outdoor title paired with three indoor championships.

“It’s typical Derek Drouin,” IU jumps coach Jeff Huntoon said. “And this one means a little bit more. It’s not like he didn’t have to earn all of them, but Erik has really been gaining in his confidence and his abilities. He had to go out and take this one.”

It was the final collegiate dual for Kynard and Drouin, who won the silver and bronze medal respectively at last summer’s Olympics in London.  Kynard defeated Drouin last weekend at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., but Drouin has won eight of their 14 meetings.

Both jumpers had clean sheets through 2.28 meters before Drouin’s miss at 2.31 (7-7). Huntoon said the decision to pass on the last two attempts and move the bar up was made quickly.

“The neat thing about it was there was no hesitation,” Huntoon said. “Before he even got over to us, we knew he was passing.”

On the first attempt at 7-8, Drouin took off a little too close to the bar. Huntoon and Drouin were slightly nervous going to that final attempt, but they moved back his takeoff point and he cleared the bar.

“I was doing some real self-motivation in my head trying to get pumped up to make it,” Drouin said. “Third attempts are kind of unusual for me. I was just kind of imagining how I had done it before and I knew I was capable.”

After he cleared and Kynard missed on all three attempts, Drouin tried for the collegiate record by leaping at 7-10 but fell just short and had to settle for just being the most decorated high jumper in NCAA history.

He’ll take it.

“It’s definitely nice to be able to end my career with a win,” Drouin said. “I would’ve been really disappointed to end my career otherwise. That’s what I was telling myself on my last attempt at 2.34. ‘Don’t let it end on a loss.’”

 

2 comments

  1. Amazing accomplishment. My daughter was pouring over the results last night to see how her teammates did. They has a couple AA’s but no medalists.

    Just getting to the championships is incredibly hard. My little girl was all everything in NC (as well as a high school AA) but never got even got within shouting distance of even competing in the NCAAs as a collegian. That scenario probably describes 95% of Division I athletes.

    The next time you watch a college sporting event just remember that the last guy on the end of the bench is probably among the greatest athletes you might ever encounter. What Derek Drouin did in his collegiate career, 5 NCAA Championships, boggles the mind. Well done.

  2. Incredible, fantastic job Mr. Drouin…it really puts you in a Pantheon of Hoosier athletes with names like Mark Spitz, Gary Hall, Charlie Hickox, Don Lash, Bob Kennedy Olympic broad jump champion and world record holder Greg Bell, Olympic Diver Cinthia Potter, Olympian Walt Bellamy, Isaiah Thomas, Quinn Buckner and a (rather numerous) handful of others who are the reason for the phrase ‘It’s Indiana!’

    Amazing, amazing accomplishments that all Hoosiers will remember and point to when stories of great Hoosier accomplishment. Congratulations and thanks to your country, Canada, for ‘lending’ you to us Hoosier for your great, great college career. We sincerely hope we get to hear “Oh Canada” play in the background when you are honored with the Gold at the next Olympics. Go Hoosiers!

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