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Calixtro Romias/The Record
Delta College's Eric Sloan opened the track and field season in style with a school record in the triple jump (51 feet, 10 inches) on Saturday.
By Kevin Niendorf February 23, 2014 Record Correspondent
STOCKTON - When Delta College freshman Eric Sloan broke the school's triple-jump record on Saturday, it not only marked the end of his year-long absence from an official meet, it also was the beginning of a new plan to reach goals left unachieved.
Sloan was one of nearly 300 athletes competing in the first 209 Shootout, an event featuring Modesto, Merced and Delta colleges at the Merv Smith Track and Field Complex. Because of his school-record jump of 51 feet, 10 inches, eclipsing the previous record by 17 inches, Sloan's name again may be among those thrown around as an Olympic hopeful.
"This is just Day 1," said Lester Bond, Delta's jumpers coach. "I don't know how many records he'll set, but I know he'll get a lot of looks (from Division I colleges). He's already been getting them."
Sloan, who was first encouraged to try track by his Bear Creek AVID teacher, Jason Johnson, missed an entire season after tearing a patellar tendon. He spent his redshirt year rehabilitating and training for this season.
On his first triple-jump attempt Saturday, he came up 1 inch short of tying the record.
"I kind of tripped myself coming off the second phase and over-rotated," Sloan said. "I thought if I didn't trip again, I'd get it."
On his second attempt, he knew immediately after hitting the sand that he likely achieved his first goal of the young track season.
"After I got up, I was pretty sure I had it," Sloan said. "I was thinking I could go a little bit farther. I was aiming for 52 (feet) today."
Sloan credited his coaches, teammates and family for the support they gave him through his demanding recovery. He admitted that the thought of quitting crossed his mind more than once. But Will Kaigler, a sophomore from West High, has made it a point to push Sloan to his potential.
"That's my training partner," said Kaigler, also a triple-jumper and long-jumper. "There was no awkwardness when we first met. We hit it off from the start. His foot speed is very good. That's one thing I envy most about his technique ."I was happy for him (when he broke the record). I'm going to make sure he can't relax. He knows I'm always going to be chasing him."
Sloan finished third in the long jump (24-3) and has a newly acquired interest in earning a ticket to the state meet in that event as well. After that, he hopes to pursue of a Division I scholarship and eventually turn professional. That includes the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I know there's a lot of people who want to go. I just want to be one of them," Sloan said. "As long as I stay healthy and my coaches help me, I think I can make it."
Delta coach Lauryn Jordan-Seales said Saturday's event gave her a chance to see how strong her team will be, especially against perennial power Modesto.
"It's really fun to see us come together and compete," Jordan-Seales said. "I heard them do their team chant today for the first time ."She said the men's and women's teams have returning athletes who made it to state last year, so her squad will be strong. Heptathlete Divonee Pleasant won every event she competed in Saturday, including the long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and javelin. "She hit the State-A standard for the high jump today and then ran off to her next event," said Jordan-Seales, who also will be counting on Karen Osuji (400 meters), Antionetta Brown (100 meters, 400 relay, 1,600 relay) and the 1,600 relay team to bring Delta points all season.
San Joaquin Delta College