It’s a Hop, Skip and a Jump to the NCAA’s for the Aggies’ McFadgen


McFadgen seeks All-American status


GREENSBORO, June 8, 2009 – Before North Carolina A&T triple jumper David McFadgen approached the runway at Irwin Belk Track just days ago during the NCAA Division I Track and Field East Regional for his final jump there were some things on his mind.

McFadgen, a junior from Newburgh, New York, knew he was in seventh place (the top five jumpers from the finals earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships). The thought occurred to him that he needed to jump at least 51-feet, 4-inches to have a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships. It dawned on him that he never jumped more than 51-feet during his collegiate career.

There was also this final thought. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking. “My coach (Roy Thompson) says don’t think,’’ McFadgen said.

“If I can tell him what I did on a particular jump then he already knows that wasn’t my best jump. We train so hard, there is no reason to think when you are out there. If I trained properly, I already know what’s going to happen. My muscles already know what to do.”

With his mind clear, McFadgen sprinted down the runway, went through the three phases of his triple jump and leaped 51-feet, 5 ¾ inches into fifth place and the nationals. The NCAA Championships will be held June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark. Three other Aggies will join him. Alexandria Spruiel will compete in the women’s 400 meters, Loreal Smith qualified for the 100 meter hurdles and Calesio Newman advanced to the nationals for the second straight year in the men’s 100 meters.

After McFadgen jumped up from the jump pit, he wiped the dirt off his body and began to pump his fist, which was followed by a couple of hard hand claps. Then his thoughts circled around another person’s thoughts – his father’s. What would he think about his son going to nationals?

“He was really excited,’’ said McFadgen about his father’s reaction to him qualifying for the NCAA championships. “He talks junk and says I can never beat him. It’s a friendly competition.”

Dad has reason to talk.

McFadgen’s full name is David Pierce McFadgen III. His father is a world class triple and long jumper named David McFadgen, Jr. McFadgen, Jr., was a three-time All-American at Virginia State University. He is a member of the VSU Hall of Fame.

He is also the most accomplished athlete in the history of the Empire State Games. He has a record 11 gold medals in the triple jump and seven gold medals in the long jump at the ESG. The elder McFadgen also holds the ESG record for longest triple and long jumps. His record in the triple jump is 55-feet, 5 ½ inches, while his long jump record still stands at 25-feet, ¾ inches.

At one point in his career, McFadgen Jr., was No. 3 in the world in the triple jump. McFadgen’s father continues to pursue his passion even today. At age 48, he is ranked No. 1 in the triple jump in the 45-and-older USA Track and Field Masters.

“There is no question track and field is in my blood,’’ said McFadgen III. “But my father never pushed me toward track and field. I just fell in love with it on my own.”

The younger McFadgen is not concerned about living up to his father’s legacy. He plans to carve out a legendary career of his own. Although his father is so accomplished, McFadgen says he has never really been coached by his father. He has seen him compete, and he has seen photos of his father competing.

McFadgen marvels out how similar their approaches, technique and landings are. Yet, McFadgen contends he has to be his own man in and out of the sport. McFadgen’s father is a mathematics teacher in Georgia. McFadgen is an English and technical writing major at N.C. A&T. His post-graduate goals are to attend law school and pursue a professional career in track and field.

“When I was younger I really wanted to live up to the legacy my father left,’’ said McFadgen. “He was a great and powerful jumper. But now it’s my time. I have to work as hard or harder than he did to make a name for myself. I know how far I can go. I know how far I’ve come. I really expect to be an All-American.”

That’s a nice thought.