World Record High Jump? No Big Deal for Coach Roderick Townsend

NAU's Graduate Assistant Jumps Coach Roderick Townsend
NAU's Graduate Assistant Jumps Coach Roderick Townsend

TORRANCE, Calif. – After the first two days of track and field action for the Lumberjacks, a logical Northern Arizona University fan would have thought not much could top the performances posted by all the athletes Thursday and Friday…but Graduate Assistant Jumps Coach Roderick Townsend defies both logic and gravity.

Saturday afternoon at Mt. SAC Relays, Townsend competed as an unattached athlete and broke the Paralympic high jump world record with a successful leap on his first attempt at the 6-11.75 (2.13m) height.


Townsend—who secured not one but two gold medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last September—is clearly incorporating the greatness he possess into his coaching style as well, as Lumberjacks Obang Odol, Matt Kisiel and Chris Jones became the first trio of high jumpers from NAU to surpass the 6-7.00 mark in a single season since 2012. While Odol accomplished the feat during the indoor season—jumping 6-10.75 (2.10m) at NAU's Friday Night Duels—Kisiel and Jones eclipsed that height at yesterday's Bryan Clay Invitational.

Townsend put on his other hat today as well, coaching stud long jumper and sprinter Shanice McPherson to a seventh-place finish at Mt. SAC. McPherson, arguably one of the greatest Lumberjack jumpers of all time, finished with a meet-best 19-09.50 (6.03m) jump Saturday. 

McPherson is the No. 7 ranked long jumper in the entire NCAA right now and is the Big Sky indoor and outdoor record holder in this event…all of which has happened under Coach Townsend's incredible tutelage.

THROWS – Long Beach Invitational

The Northern Arizona throws unit also wrapped up its weekend action today at the Beach Invitational in Long Beach, Calif., with Tiana Hatler-Stefick leading the way with her PR in the women's shot put event.

Hatler-Stefick competed in hammer throw competitions Thursday and Friday, but clearly was not too fatigued to muster a career-best 48-06.75 (14.80m) throw Saturday. For Hatler-Stefick, that bested her previous best shot put mark, logged during the 2016 indoor season, by nearly a foot and a half.


Joining Hatler-Stefick in that competition was Rachel Pott (45-0.25, 13.72m), Jazzmine Ecker (42-09.00, 13.03m), Brittany Vielma (41-01.75, 12.54m) and Heather Calandra (39-02.25, 11.94m).

On the men's side, it was Shawn Collins breaking the 18m plateau at back-to-back meets, muscling a 59-08.50 (18.20m) throw for third place in a field of 71 athletes today.

As of right now, Collins' PR of 18.34m recorded at Jim Click last weekend still ranks No. 25 in the NCAA, No. 14 in the NCAA West Region and No. 1 in the Big Sky this season.

The Lumberjacks are schedule to send athletes to the Cardinal Classic next weekend in Palo Alto, Calif. That meet will begin Friday, April 21.