Ngonidzashe Makusha wins long jump
AUSTIN, Texas -- The crowd at the Texas Relays had barely sat down after cheering home favorite Marquis Goodwin's first long jump when the next competitor leaped, landed and threw two fists of sand into the air with a yell.
The statement was loud and clear: Florida State's Ngonidzashe Makusha is back and chasing another NCAA championship.
Makusha won the men's long jump Friday with a wind-aided leap of 27 feet, 6 3/4 inches, beating Goodwin on his home turf in a showdown between the top two collegians in the country.
Makusha won the NCAA outdoor titles in 2008 and 2009. Goodwin won the title as a freshman in 2010 while Makusha sat out the season with injuries.
"For me it's not a rivalry," Makusha said. "I was just focused on my jumps. I wasn't worried about him."
But it is a big start to a year when Makusha, who is from Zimbabwe, hopes to win another NCAA title and compete in the world and Africa championships. Makusha finished fourth in the 2008 Olympics, missing out on a medal when he was beaten by one centimeter on the final jump.
"I think it's going to be a good year. I'm just going to go with it and see where it takes me," he said. "It's still a long way to go."
Makusha missed the 2010 indoor season when he pulled a quadricep running the 60 meters. He had to abandon the outdoor season when he took one jump at the Texas Relays and pulled out with a strained hip.
Goodwin, who also plays football at Texas, put up his best mark on his second jump of the windy and warm afternoon but couldn't stretch it any further. He passed on his next attempt and fouled on two of his last three.
Those mistakes knocked Goodwin to third. Texas A&M's Melvin Echard finished second with a mark of 26-6½ on his last jump. Goodwin ended up third at 26-5 3/4.
"I just haven't hit my peak yet," Goodwin said. "I'm a little disappointed. I like to win. It doesn't feel good losing. No excuses."
Although Makusha won the NCAA indoor title last month, Goodwin had to be considered the favorite on his home track. Goodwin jumped 26-½ on his first attempt and Makusha matched it minutes later. That's when he leaped out of the landing pit with a yell.
"We do this for fun," Makusha said. "For me to go out there and give good competition when everyone expected him to win ... I was just in the moment."
Goodwin didn't expect his first leap to be the winner and knew Makusha would chase the big early jump.
"He's performed at that level many times," Goodwin said.
In other events Friday, Southern Mississippi's Tori Bowie won the women's long jump at 21-7 1/4 and Arizona's Brigetta Barrett won the women's high jump at 6-1 1/4.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press