February 22, 2006

Triple Jumpers Fly for Red

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Hop. Step. Jump. Six days a week, junior Rayon Taylor and sophomore Muhammad Halim go through the motions of the triple jump, each time landing on one leg with a force between seven and a half and 10 times their body weight. In just these three motions, Taylor and Halim can bound more than fifty feet.

Over the past year and a half, the pair has trained and competed together on a daily basis. Today, they are among some of the most talented triple jumpers, not only in the Ivy League, but also in the entire country.

The toll the event takes on the bodies of the athletes competing in it is incredible.

“Physically, triple jumpers take the biggest physical pounding of anyone in [track and field],” said men’s head track coach Nathan Taylor. “In order to accomplish things at a high level, athletes need to be willing to train at a high level.”

A good triple jumper must not only be able to deal with the incessant strain on every inch of his legs, but must also have speed, coordination, endurance and strength. Both Taylor and Halim can attest to the physical demands of the triple jump, as they have each suffered injuries which hindered their progress at one point or another during their careers.

“Each time you jump, you try to cushion yourself from the pressure. Over the season, you body can only take so much,” Taylor said.

Halim echoed Taylor’s response, adding that consistency was also important in avoiding injury.

“Every week you go through practice, and if you don’t land right once, it effects everything. Parts of your body you didn’t know were there end up hurting,” he said.

Taylor and Halim have proven they can take the beating the triple jump gives them each day. Taylor came to Cornell having only competed in the event once before leaving high school, and in one season improved seven feet from where he began. He placed fifth at the indoor Heptagonal championships and second outdoor, when he broke a twenty-year-old school record with his mark of 52-0 1/2. He also qualified for the NCAA regional championships.

Taylor noted that he did not expect to break the record during his first season, but was certainly pleased to do so.

“Once I started jumping fifty feet regularly, I saw [the record] in my sights,” Taylor said.

Unlike Taylor, Halim started triple jumping in seventh grade. After a successful high school career, Halim came to Cornell having not jumped competitively for an entire year. However, during his freshman season he proved that hard work and dedication produce success. At the indoor Heps, Halim placed third and broke the freshman school record in the triple jump with his leap or 50-0 3/4 inch. Despite injuries, which made his training inconsistent and forced him to miss several meets during the outdoor season, he still managed to qualify for the NCAA regionals in both the triple and long jumps.

Having one another to train and compete with has been mutually beneficial according to Taylor and Halim.

“I always wanted to have someone to train with so that we could progress together,” Halim said.

The pair has switched places often throughout their time together, Taylor jumping farther one day and Halim the next.

“I think that [having one another there] helps,” coach Taylor said. “They push each other and drive each other. It’s a friendly rivalry.”

With this year’s indoor Heps only a few days away, Taylor and Halim have their sights set on performing well. Currently, Taylor has the second and Halim the third best jumps in the Ivy League this season. If all goes well, they hope to meet the NCAA provisional standard of 15.50 meters, which is not far off from where either has jumped thus far.

“My body is working really well right now,” Halim said.

Taylor agreed.

“My legs feel really great, my confidence is high – now it is just getting out on the track and proving I can compete,” he said. “I think Muhammad and I both have a chance to jump very well.”

Archived article by Erin Garry
Sun Staff Writer