March 11, 2011
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-For the first time in three years, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's indoor track and field team will be represented at the NCAA Division III Championships.
Freshman Chris Perry (Attleboro, MA/Dighton-Rehoboth HS/BCC) will represent the Corsairs and will compete in the triple jump Saturday at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
Perry is the first member of the Corsairs to advance to the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships since Jon Garcia (Stoneham, MA/MA/Stoneham HS) finished first in the 55 meter hurdles at the NCAA indoor championships three years ago. Currently, Perry ranks fourth nationally with a best mark of 48 feet, 3 1/2 inches and is the top-ranked freshman in the nation. Chrys Jones of Centre College (KY) owns the top mark in Division III at 50-3 1/2.
"Chris is such a talent, and is willing to work at a level that maximizes his talent, that anything short of 48 feet and anything short of qualifying for nationals would have been a disappointment," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Steve Gardiner. "He has jumped 48 feet in his last four meets, and he's been very consistent. Jerry Espinosa, the assistant coach at Dighton-Rehoboth High School who also worked with (former UMass Dartmouth student-athlete) Kevin Markie (North Attleboro, MA/North Attleboro HS/Nichols) did a great job with Chris, and Andre Fletcher, who is a student at UMass Dartmouth Law School and competed as an undergraduate at Texas Southern, has helped us out as well.
Perry is one of 13 student-athletes scheduled to compete Saturday. They will each take three jumps, and the field will be cut to eight competitors for the finals. Those advancing to the finals will score points and earn All-American status/
"Chris didn't jump last week, because we wanted him to stay fresh and get in a good week of practice," said Gardiner. "Hopefully, the plan is that everything comes together, and he jumps well Saturday."
Perry is a relative newcomer to his event, having started as a high school senior. "My coach, Jerry Espinosa, told me to try it, and the first time I did it, I jumped 41-6," said Perry. "It's gone better than I thought. I thought I might make 47 feet this year, and I've gone past that several times."
Perry also credited Fletcher for his help. "Andre Fletcher showed me how to focus," said Perry. "He showed me how to make everything become clearer."
Saturday's competition will be tough, but Perry will be ready. "I've been to big meets before, but this is the biggest meet I've been to," said Perry. "My goal is to beat myself every time I go out there. I would rather lose with a personal record than win with my worst jump."
UMASS DARTMOUTH TRACK AND FIELD