Vista Murrieta graduate and current University of Arizona Wildcat athlete Nick Ross vied for a place on the U.S. Olympic team at the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field in Eugene, Ore.
During Saturday’s preliminary rounds at Hayward Field, the 6-foot-2, 2009 graduate and honor roll athlete took ninth place to advance to Monday’s high jump finals with a jump of 7’-1.75.”
In the finals, Ross hung tough but came up just short, finishing in third place at a height of 7’-5.75”—good enough, though, for a personal record.
At the prelims, Ross was successful on his first attempts at the opening height of 6’-10.75” and at the next height, 7’-0.5." On a rainy evening where U.S. decathlete Ashton Eaton broke the world record for points attained in his events, it took Ross three attempts to clear his final mark for the evening, 7’-1.75."
The top 13 high jumpers advanced to Monday’s finals. Those who would jump the Olympic "A" standard of 7’-7” or better sometime in the season and participate in the trials or finish in the top three with that "A" standard under their belt would make Team USA for the Olympic Games.
The finals’ opening bar height was 7’-0.5.” The weather was 60 degrees and partly cloudy with wet grounds from earlier intermittent rain.
Ross was the first jumper and cleared it on his second attempt. Nine of the high jumpers cleared that initial height.
The bar was next raised to 7’-2.5.” Ross kept the fans on the edge of their seats as he succeeded on his third of three attempts at that height. Six of the jumpers moved on.
The next height was 7’-4.5.” Ross planted and was over the bar on his first attempt. Only eventual first-place finisher, Jamie Nieto, would clear that height on his first attempt.
Through that round, the same six athletes remained in the competition.
The bar was raised a little over an inch to 7’-5.75.” This would have been a personal record for Ross. Everything worked perfectly as he cleared the bar—again on his first attempt.
Four high jumpers remained in the mix.
Each would try three times but no jumper would clear the final height of 7’-7” leaving Ross in a very respectable third place and leaving all of his friends, family and fans with lasting memories from his valiant effort.
Ross was honored while a college freshman as an indoor and outdoor All-American and finished in the top eight in the high jump at both national championships that year.
In 2011 and 2012, Ross won the conference high jump title.
On June 14, the junior Wildcat was named the Pac-12 Conference Field Athlete of the Year, the first for a University of Arizona athlete since the award was created in 2005.
Q & A
Patch reached Ross via Facebook during his rest day on Sunday to ask a few questions.
Patch: "Get our readers up to speed on your sports achievements. Briefly share your achievements while in high school."
Ross: "I would say my biggest achievement throughout high school was winning CIF in long and high jump and getting second in the triple jump."
Patch: "How old are you and what year did you graduate from VM?"
Ross: "I am 20 turning 21 in August; I graduated from Vista in '09."
Patch: "Tell us a little about your post-high school sports activities and achievements (college & unattached)."
Ross: "Post high school I went on to become an all-American my freshman, sophomore and junior years, both indoor and outdoor seasons. I was fortunate enough to win a national championship indoor this year in Boise, Idaho, one of my favorite jumping facilities. Also, I reached a season’s best (depending how trials go) in our Tucson Elite meet jumping 7'-5”. It was a long overdue PR [personal record]."
Patch: "How did you become eligible for the U.S. Olympic Trials?"
Ross: "I became eligible for trials early during the indoor by jumping 2.24 meters (7'-4 ¼”), but my career best set in Tucson only further solidified that spot."
Patch: "Up until what age do most jumpers successfully compete?"
Ross: "I'm not sure what age jumpers usually stop competing but I plan on hanging up the spikes in my late 20s and pursuing a career in social work or counseling."
Patch: "What are your sports goals in the near and distant future?"
Ross: "Just as many athletes, my ultimate goal is to make an Olympic team and compete for the US professionally for a few years."
Patch: "Please note any coaches or mentors or family members, etc., that you'd like to give credit to for being where you are today."
Ross: "I would like to thank my best friend Kyle Montgomery for introducing me to Charlie Wiscott who became my personal trainer throughout high school and helped me become a better track athlete, basketball player, and person. Most of all I wanted to thank my family and friends for supporting and believing in me."
Patch: "What's it been like being up there and competing amongst some of the best in the world?"
Ross: "As I continue to progress and become a high caliber high jumper, the competition will become more and more intense. But being at trials is probably the best competition I will see for a while. Two of the top three jumpers in the world are here in the U.S. so that only motivates me more to keep working hard so I can one day become just that."
Patch: "Has the rain hampered you in your competition thus far?"
Ross: "The rain has definitely been something that has gotten into the head of a lot of the jumpers but it is important to just get over it and deal with the elements. I couldn’t ask for a better year of competition."