After missing the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships last season, Blue Springs High School graduate Justin Hall made sure it didn’t happen for a second consecutive year.
The Texas Tech junior finished sixth in the long jump with a distance of 25 feet, 3.25 inches at the NCAA West Preliminaries May 23 in Sacramento, California, earning his second trip to the outdoor national meet next Wednesday in Austin, Texas.
“I was happy to get through,” Hall said. “Two of my jumps would have been able to get me through, so that’s always positive to see. It wasn’t my best performance, I could have performed a lot better. I can’t complain. I am happy to be headed back to nationals.
“Outdoor season has turned out a lot better than I thought, coming off an indoor season where I didn’t make nationals. I had a jump over 25 (feet) (all season) except for one, I think.”
The last time Hall made the national meet was when he was a freshman in 2017. He earned second-team All-America honors with a long jump distance of 24 feet, 6.5 inches.
Hall’s sophomore season was a down year by his standards. He didn’t make it to nationals in indoor or outdoor competition.
“Last year, I was coming off a very long freshman season,” he said. “I didn’t have much time to rest in between training. It was a struggle for me to figure out how to get my body back into shape and ready for the season. I let that hinder me. I learned that you have to go out there and be a competitor. I came out this year and performed a lot better.”
Not only did Hall compete in the long and triple jump events this season, he’s also competed in the 100 meters and the 400 (4x100) relay for the first time in his career. He had a personal best of 10.43 seconds in the 100 in the Michael Johnson Invitational in April and helped the 4x100 relay team take first in the Fearless Champion Open in March at Texas Tech in Lubbock.
“It’s a good feeling for me being a jumper to go out there and run on the track,” Hall said. “We always run a little bit for training for the long jump. So, my coach put me out there on the track and I ran a little faster than we expected.
“I was nervous about it at first, but we sprint a lot and I have a lot of fast teammates. I was prepared for the battle and the competition I was going up against.”
The junior said he hopes to keep competing in sprint events into his senior year.
“Hopefully I can get faster, which is what I have been doing all year,” Hall said. “Maybe next year, we’ll see how it goes.”
And that speed he showed in those events helped him get better at the long jump.
“I think over time, I’ve gotten a lot faster and faster,” Hall said. “The faster you go on the runway of the long jump, usually the better you do.”
With the national meet less than a week away, Hall is preparing to try to earn his second career All-America honor. He can also help Texas Tech win a team national title as they have the most qualifiers of any team in the nation.
“God willing, I want to go out there and perform my best and see where that gets me,” Hall said. “Hopefully I will help my team put up points to help them win a team title.
“I am extremely excited about (competing for a team national title). It’s a good feeling to be a part of a winning culture here and helping the seniors go out on top. It’s been instilled in me from going to Blue Springs High School and being under Coach (Joe) Cusack.”