Temple's Pickett makes last NCAA charge
Temple senior Gabe Pickett walked over to his jump coach.
"I'm rushing?" Pickett asked Shameka Marshall. She nodded, talked about relaxing through the segments of the triple jump. Pickett locked in, nodding. If he didn't nail his last attempt, his Penn Relays would be over.
He nailed it. Pickett's 14.92 meters (48 feet, 111/2 inches) put him easily into the Eastern finals, as No. 2 qualifier.
Pickett walked back to his coach. "Oh, my God." . . . "Yeah, right."
If Temple's decision to cut men's track and field is never reversed, the school's last competitor ever at the Penn Relays had three more chances. Pickett was the perfect representative.
Pickett had torn the meniscus in his knee in the fall. He had thought seriously about redshirting. No point, now. He rehabbed like crazy. He didn't hit last year's personal best at that Penn Relays, but that 14.92 ended up fourth, good for a medal to end it all.
That hit Pickett as he prepared for his last attempt.
"It was like an emotional moment for me at first," said Pickett, who later qualified for next week's NCAA regionals. "But I gathered myself together."
When his feet hit the sand pit, the Relays had seen the last of the Owls.
"It's just an honor," Pickett said of being the one.
- Mike Jensen