Junior finishes career season breaking several school records
Corey Crawford sits about 1 1/2 feet behind his idol and Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis for the longest jump in New Jersey high school track and field history.
But this March, Lewis watched on at the AAC Indoor Championships in the New York City Armory as the junior secured the longest collegiate jump of the 2014 indoor season.
After the jump, the nine-time gold medalist and current University of Houston volunteer track coach talked with Crawford about the jump and what he liked about it.
“It’s got to be one of the best days of his life. Carl gave him real positive feedback about doing things the right way,” assistant coach Robert Farrell joked. “I guess we’ll agree with what Carl says.”
Although this year’s Daily Targum Male Athlete of the Year may not hold the New Jersey high school long jump record, he has certainly broken his fair-share of records at Rutgers from start to finish this season.
It began in December at the New Year’s Invitational at Princeton when Crawford was able to break the school and personal indoor record in the long jump with a jump of 7.79 meters.
Crawford broke the same records in February with a jump of 7.97 meters at the New Balance Invitational, all culminating in his final jump of 8.22 meters at the AAC Championships in March.
Each jump placed him atop the national leader board, with the final jump putting him in third place in the world rankings for the indoor campaign.
According to head coach Mike Mulqueen, Crawford’s impact has been extremely positive for the program on the heels of an entrance into the Big Ten conference.
“When some of the younger kids see that Corey is the number one jumper in the country, they think, ‘Hey, maybe I could be like that, too,’“ Mulqueen said. “It helps build momentum for the program.”
As he continues to break records, Crawford still remembers being right behind Lewis in high school and says that was a time when he realized he had jumping potential.
“Especially in high school — my senior year — I wanted to be the best,” Crawford said. “I wanted to be the best in the county, then state, then the national level. So my senior year really opened my eyes to where I could be on a national stage.”
It wasn’t always easy for Crawford, however.
Last season, the Oakland, New Jersey, native was often frustrated with his jumps, resulting in a lack of confidence that showed on the track.
“I think the biggest change has been my confidence level,” Crawford. “Last year I got off to a rough start in the outdoor season. I wasn’t jumping with any confidence, I was fouling on almost every jump I took. … Track is very much a mental sport. I feel like this year I am much more mentally stable than I was last year.”
Senior pole-vaulter Chris Wyckoff has had the benefit of being around Crawford since he entered the program four years ago and believes the improvements are due to a mixture of Farrell’s new training philosophies, along with developed physical fitness.
“Corey has had a second year to adjust to Coach Farrell’s new coaching technique,” Wyckoff said. “He has matured as an athlete and learned from his injuries in the past. He has been taking great care of his body on and off the track.”
After placing third at the NCAA Indoor Championships in New Mexico, Crawford was able to carry the momentum into the outdoor portion of the season.
The First Team Indoor All-American first jumped at the Spec Towns Invitational in Georgia in April and supplanted his previous best and school-best outdoor mark, with a jump of 7.80 meters.
He jumped a second time at the Penn Relays a weekend ago and re-broke his own Rutgers benchmark with a jump of 7.90 meters.
Crawford said that coming into the season, he knew this success was possible.
“I knew this was going to be my year,” Crawford said. “There’s no reason why I can’t be up there with [the best in the country]. That’s what I’ve been telling myself this whole season.”
The junior says that he gets his winning attitude from both his teammates and friends, but most importantly his family.
Crawford’s father, Jay Crawford, is an anchor on ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter, and has been an almost-obsessive supporter of Corey Crawford since he took up track in high school.
Corey Crawford says that when Jay Crawford is not working, he is either at his meets, looking up stats, or Tweeting out the latest information about Corey Crawford to his followers.
That all means much to him.
“I’m truly blessed to have parents who really want to go watch me and aren’t just going to make me happy,” Crawford said. “My dad really didn’t know anything about track when I picked it up in high school, but now he knows everything and he’s always looking up stats and records, so it’s been awesome to get so much support from all over the country. It’s all been really special.”
The next stop for Crawford will be Regional Championships followed by NCAA Outdoor Championships — a competition the jumper nearly missed qualifying for last season.