96 Gold Medalist Harrison joins NSAF Project TJ & Jav Clinic, Underway at Sanford Sports Complex

by Steve Underwood

With the presence of a new Olympian Gold Medalist coach on staff – and the unbeatable opportunity to train in a world class training and scientific research facility – the NSAF’s Project Triple Jump and Project Javelin Gold have returned to the Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls, S.D., for another great late summer clinic.

The NSAF and the Sanford Sports Science Institute (SSSI) entered into partnership last year and the Project athletes trained for the first time here in 2017 – a tremendously successful clinic in August, 2017. The NSAF and Sanford alike have been looking forward to this year’s edition ever since.

“We are thrilled to be hosting the NSAF Triple-jump and Javelin Performance Clinics again this year at the Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls, SD,” said Thayne Munce, Associate Director of the SSSI. “The student-athletes who attend these clinics are exceptionally talented individuals dedicated to improving themselves on and off the track. It is an honor to play a small role in assisting these student-athletes in their development and helping them to reach their ambitious goals in life.”

1996 Olympic triple jump gold medalist Kenny Harrison has joined the NSAF’s Project Triple Jump coaching staff for this four-day (August 9-12) joint clinic. Harrison worked briefly with the Project at a clinic in Chula Vista, Calif. this past winter, but this is the first time he’s joined Head Coach Peter Pratt (himself a Bahamian Olympian) and Project Coordinator Macka Jones for a full weekend. Harrison famously captured the gold in Atlanta 22 years ago with a 59-4.5 performance – an American record and #2 all-time globally at the time. Twenty-two years later, he still holds the Olympic record and only Christian Taylor (now the AR-holder) has beaten that mark. Harrison was also the 1991 IAAF World Champ in the TJ and was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame in 2013.

“It is a true blessing to be working with NSAF, and the tremendous staff and amazing young athletes,” said Harrison. “It an honor to be able to share valuable information with our youth in such a world class setting. I plan to learn just as much information as I have to offer!”

The Project Javelin Gold coaching staff is also Olympic quality. Coach Tom Pukstys is a 2-time Olympic Finalist (1992, 1996) and former American record-holder (285-10) in the event. He was a 6-time USA champion and represented Team USA in six consecutive IAAF World Championships. Also on the staff this weekend is Coach Rob Woosley, a veteran mentor from Louisiana who has trained and coached with Olympians and other national/world-class throwers for decades, and 2012 Olympic Trials finalist Kim Hamilton.

“I look forward to working with the outstanding coaches who will be leading the Performance Clinics,” added Sanford’s Munce. “These coaches are truly world-class and have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share. Together, these clinics provide an unparalleled learning environment for all participants.”

The NSAF Project Triple Jump athletes training here this weekend include three newcomers and five returning athletes – three of whom were on the roster to train here at this time in 2017. The newcomers are Jadan Hanson (Uniondale HS, NY jr), Orsciana Beard (Zachary HS, LA soph) and Jordan Hardy (Hampton HS, VA soph), truly three rising star prep jumpers in the U.S. – each coming off PR, runner-up finishes in their respective state meets as freshmen or sophomores.

The PTJ returnees, who trained here at Sanford last summer, include India Turk (Howard HS, GA jr), Nick Drayden (DeSoto HS, TX jr) and Ty Trinh (Loyola Blakefield HS, MD jr). Two others who joined the program later last fall and are training at Sanford for the first time are Riley Burger (Notre Dame HS, MO jr) and Malcolm Clemons (St. Mary’s HS, CA jr).

Meanwhile, those in the house from Project Javelin Gold also includes three newcomers, then six returnees. Sydney Juszczyk (Trinity Catholic HS, MO soph), Katelyn Fairchild (Andale HS, KS soph) and Alianna Eucker (Bergen Tech HS, NJ soph), the three leading girls, nationally, in the Class of 2021, are making their Project debuts.

Returning to the roster (and Sanford) are juniors Zechariah Blake (John Curtis HS, LA), Sam Hankins (Manhattan HS, KS) and Joe Nizich (Central Catholic HS, OR), plus seniors Ty Hampton (North Bend HS, OR), Skylar Ciccolini (Mifflin County HS, PA) and Anna Hall (Valor Christian HS, CO) – the latter being the national HS record-holder in the heptathlon who has trained with the Project to improve her javelin component.

Testing and indoor training here takes place at the Sanford Pentagon and the Sanford POWER Fieldhouse, a pair of adjacent facilities that are also just minutes away from the clinic’s outdoor training venue: Howard Wood Field – a premier track-and-field facility in the region that hosts state championships and the nearly century-old Howard Wood Dakota Relays.

The experts of the SSSI conduct innovative exercise physiology, concussion, nutrition, and biomechanics research and offer a variety of cutting-edge athlete services using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that are unmatched in the region. These services include detailed physiological evaluations in a controlled environmental chamber; comprehensive gait analysis; fitness testing; sport nutrition testing and consults and on-field assessments.

The idea is to put the athletes through a battery of physical tests and measurements to identify the athletes’ physical characteristics. The data will be compared to local and regional athletes to pinpoint what differences may be present, and will be tracked over the trajectory of each athlete’s career. The goal is test annually during the 5-year agreement, and to not only improve the health, safety and performance of all NSAF athletes, but also to measure progress and development in key areas and its effect on performance.

Project athletes had individual testing appointments while here at the clinic, as well as a group testing experience on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the weekend experience here also includes a variety indoor and outdoor training sessions, sports psychology sessions led by Dr. Margaret Ottley, the NSAF’s Sports Psychologist, plus additional classroom and video review sessions. Joining the NSAF Project athletes are additional coaches, jumpers and throwers of all ages who registered for the clinic, coming from around the country. Both last year and this year, for example, we welcomed a large contingent of young athletes from the Nebraska-based Cornhusker Flyers, one of the outstanding clubs in the country.

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