Its a tired cliché, the old third times a charm bit.
For Northwestern track and field athlete Julisa Tindall, winning her third straight Class AAAA high jump state championship this Saturday at Lower Richland High School wont be a charm; its expected.
Of course I feel a little bit of pressure, said Tindall, but Im just going to do what I do best Saturday, and just compete against myself, and hopefully win.
The pressure is nothing new for Tindall, a jumper both graceful and explosive. Amid the chaos of a state meet, the high jumpers are generally off by themselves at one end of the stadium. The track separates them from the stands. Coaches may check in periodically, but its mostly the jumper alone with the other competitors, and their thoughts.
I kind of zone things out and just stand by myself and keep myself positive, Tindall explained.
I visualize going over the bar and then I just attack it.
Boy, does she.
Tindall high-jumped 5-foot-10 as a sophomore, a mere quarter of an inch off the state record, and the only reason she hasnt bested the state mark since is shes so busy in long jump and triple jump as well. Tindall has high-jumped 5-foot-8 this season and Northwestern track and field coach Calvin Hudgins says she looks good heading into the weekend as the states top seed.
Tindall is seeded fourth in the long jump (17 feet, 7 inches) and second in the triple jump (38 feet, 4 inches), and will shoot for medals in those events too when theyre held Friday night. The quiet senior is a dream contributor in track and field because of her versatility in three events, something that the College of Charleston will no doubt put to use when she steps on campus this fall to join the Cougar program.
The only problem with that is she should be doing four, Hudgins joked. Shes a great athlete. She can do anything out here. Wherever we sent her she would be successful.
College of Charleston is moving to the Colonial Athletic Association this fall, and the first place high jumper in the CAA last year cleared 5 feet, 5.25 inches. Consider Tindall jumped 5-10 as a sophomore in her first year of organized track and its plain to see that she should make an impact for the Cougars.
Were looking at that and were really excited, said College of Charleston head track and field coach Amy Seago. Even if shes just having a bad day its definitely well within the realm of possibilities for her to be in a position to win.
Tindall was aware of the College of Charlestons program because previous Northwestern high jumper Emily Smith went to the school. Seago was very aware of Tindall because obviously a 5-10 high jump catches any coachs eye. But she comes from a great family, and I think that means a lot because her values are definitely on board with what we are here at the College of Charleston, what we want in a teammate.
Tindall, a soft-spoken, focused individual, found the perfect fit in Charleston, despite interest from bigger Division I schools like Stanford and Oregon.
I just loved the team, the facility and the coaches, she said. And of course, the location.
Such is Tindalls personality that when she won her second consecutive high jump state title last spring, Northwestern track and field coach Calvin Hudgins didnt even know until later.
If you didnt ask her about her previous championships, she wouldnt tell you.
That just comes from the way I was raised, said Tindall. My parents always taught me to stay focused and go for your goals.
Also from her parents came springy, dynamic muscles and tendons. Her father Julian played college basketball at Sacred Heart University and her mother Jackie competed in track and field at Virginia State University. The combination of mental acuity and genetic lottery winnings makes Tindall the clear favorite this weekend at Lower Richland. Her experience will be a key factor too.
In the state meet people are gonna crack, said Hudgins, whose team is counting on points from Tindall in all three jumping events.
Theres so much pressure. Have you ever been in a state meet before? Youve got the wow factor, but she (Tindall) shouldnt have the wow factor. Theres gonna be pressure, but in the past shes been able to handle it.
Tindall said she competes against herself, not the other jumpers. She plans on majoring in psychology at the College of Charleston, and its hard to believe that her high-jumping experiences havent shaped an interest in that subject at least a little.
The high jump is one of the more nerve-wracking events, Hudgins explained.
I often wonder whats going on in their minds down there. Whats going on in your head? Im not sure I could do it and be successful at it, because youve got five minutes to talk yourself out of it or into it.
Pole vaulters Kimberleigh Riggs and Mitch Greeley are Northwesterns only other three-time state track and field champions. There could be a third Trojan joining their elite ranks this weekend. If youre lucky, maybe shell tell you about it.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032.