LAWRENCEVILLE — Sophomore Desmond Hamilton (Pennsauken) has qualified for the NCAA National Track & Field Championships in the long jump. “In all of the years that Rider has had track and field, he is only the second person to get to nationals,” said Rider head coach Rob Pasquariello.
Hamilton placed fifth in the men’s long jump with a distance of 7.45m (24’5.5”) at the NCAA Regional Championships, hosted by the University of Florida May 25 in James G. Pressly Stadium at Percy Beard Track and qualified for the NCAA Championships.
“The top five automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships,” Pasquariello said. “Our goal down there was to get to Nationals, and he did that.”
“I wanted to come in first,” said Hamilton, who was the highest seed after a qualifying mark of 7.83m (25’8.75”) made him the top seed in the Regional. “To come in fifth and be just the second Rider athlete to qualify for Nationals is an accomplishment I am very proud of.”
The 2007 NCAA Championships are June 6-9 in Sacramento, California. “I’ve never been to ‘Cali’, and I am looking forward to it,” Hamilton said.
The only other Bronc to ever compete at the NCAA Track & Field Championships was Jose Lopez in the 400m hurdles in 1994. “That was my goal, to qualify for Nationals,” Hamilton said. “By ultimate goal was to place first. Now that will be my goal at Nationals. To put Rider on the map. If I can finish in the top 10, I’ll be an All-American. I’m going to try to win it, but top 10 would be good enough. ”
“For a school our size to get somebody in there is pretty exceptional,” Pasquariello said. “And he has a legitimate chance of becoming an all-American. Out of over 200 Division I track & field programs to be one of the 24 athletes to make it to the National championships is a pretty big accomplishment.”
At the ICAAAA Championships May 12, Hamilton won the long jump (25’8.75”) and placed ninth in the 100m (10.75). The long jump distance ranked Hamilton fourth in the nation and his win was only the third all-time for Rider in IC4A competition and first since 1994.
“Desmond continues to prove he is a big meet performer,” said Pasquariello. “I told him that morning that he could get at least 25 feet and he even exceeded what I thought he would do. The conditions were right for him to do well and he has done all of the things that we have asked so that he can succeed. He’s young and raw and our expectations for him keep going up. He set four ‘PR’s’ while winning the competition and that’s an impressive effort.”
At the 2007 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships Hamilton won the long jump with a Rider record 7.28m, ran on the winning 4 x 100 relay, placed second in the 100m (10.55) and placed second n the 200m (21.42). His times in the 100 and 200 broke the old MAAC Championship records.
As a freshman at the 2006 MAAC Championships, Hamilton won the men’s long jump (7.02m) despite being sick all day. “We told Desmond maybe he should be sick more often,” said Pasquariello. “Desmond has unlimited potential, on the track and in the jumps,” said Pasquariello.
“I had food poisoning or a stomach virus, I’m not sure which, but I was pretty much out of it the day before,” said Hamilton. “But there was never a doubt that I would be competing. Winning the long jump was a bit of a surprise today because I was so sick.”
“As a freshman he came in very confident, all the schools wanted him, and he has done everything we have asked of him,” Pasquariello said. “With his attitude and talent he is going to be something special.”
Hamilton was also a standout basketball player at Pennsauken, earning all-conference honors, but gave up basketball his senior year to concentrate on his true love, track & field. “I had to concentrate on track & field so I could get a scholarship,” Hamilton remembers. “There were a few schools recruiting me, but I really liked it here at Rider. The coaching staff and members of the team really made me feel comfortable here.”
“Desmond does everything you ask of him, and is willing to do whatever it takes to improve,” said Pasquariello. “You can’t ask more than that.”
The qualifying rounds at the NCAA Championships are Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm Eastern Time, and the Finals are Thursday at 9:30 pm Eastern Time.