Lantern file photo
After 77 years, Jesse Owens, the former Ohio State track star and the man who thumbed his nose at Adolf Hitler and the idea of “Aryan Dominance” at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by winning four gold medals, has been supplanted in OSU outdoor long jumping lore.
Redshirt senior Michael Hartfield set the new OSU record on March 29 at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, Texas, with a personal-best jump of 8.15 meters (26-9.00), edging Owens’ mark of 8.13 meters (26-8.25) set in 1936.
“That accomplishment was the biggest one I’ve done,” Hartfield said. “To break a legend’s record, he’s one of the greatest athletes of all time … and it’s been really awesome to put it all together my senior year and break that record which has been my goal since I got here.”
Hartfield has been one of the most decorated athletes in OSU track history, garnering three second team All-American honors in the long jump, five All-Big Ten selections for the long and triple jumps and earning the titles of 2011 Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year and the 2011 U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
On Wednesday, Hartfield was also named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week, his second time earning the honor this season and the fourth time in his career. His performance at the Jim Click Shootout Saturday, where he earned first-place with a mark of 8.10 meters (26-7.00) in the long jump and first-place in the triple jump with a 15.84 meters (51-11.75) mark, garnered him the honor.
But even with all of the accolades and breaking Owens’ record, Hartfield said he isn’t done just yet.
“I’m going to keep pushing for another record, try and push a world record,” Hartfield said. “You never know, I just gotta keep working hard and keep pushing the limits and see where it takes you.”
The current long jump world record is 8.95 meters, set by Mike Powell from the U.S. in 1991.
His jumps coach, Brian Brillon, said when he first met Hartfield, he saw potential for him to break Owens’ record.
“When I first met him and we first did some drills, Mike just had that ‘it’ factor,” Brillon said. “And you know when you see ‘it.’ Each year he’s been progressing, and he’s one of those guys determined to get better. He’s a blessing to coach.”
Hartfield is already looking ahead to the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Track Championships, which are set to be held at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on May 10. He said he has a goal to win a conference title as a senior on the Buckeyes’ home track.
“I want to help the team toward a Big Ten Championship, that’s still the goal,” Hartfield said. “Let’s try and get a championship … let’s just keep pushing to get better, that’s basically the team goal always.”
Brillon said Hartfield’s work ethic doesn’t just inspire the team, but also his coaches. Brillon said Hartfield’s leadership might be his biggest asset.
“I think (Mike’s) helped all of us get better,” Brillon said. “He’s helped me be a better coach, he’s helped the other athletes be better just having him on the team, and he brings an atmosphere of competitiveness and excellence.”
Hartfield’s jumping career won’t end once he removes the Scarlet and Gray track suit. Hartfield said his personal goals stretch far beyond the confines of the aptly named Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“I plan to go on the pro circuit and to try and make the world team,” Hartfield said. “Everyone wants to be an Olympian, that’s the peak. I want to make the Olympic team and say I’m an Olympian.”
Hartfield and OSU’s next home meet is the Jesse Owens Track Classic, which is scheduled to begin April 19 at 4 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.