By Lindsay Rossmiller
EUGENE, Oregon — For the first time in almost a year, Mike Hartfield will get to go home and visit his family. He gets to bring a flag and his third-place medal to his mom, who lives in an assisted living facility in North Carolina. He will tell her how he jumped farther than he ever had before at exactly the right time.
On his last jump Thursday at the USATF Outdoor Championships, Hartfield moved up from sixth place to third place with a leap of 27 feet, 7 1/2 inches. That was good enough to get the last spot on the U.S. team for the world championships in Beijing in August.
“As a competitor, you always have dreams about winning it in the last one,” said Hartfield.
He found the situation stressful. But he told himself, “You don’t have to win, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Do what you’ve got to do. Just make the team.”
As he got up from the sand, he knew it was a good jump. “I wasn’t sure what it was, but when I saw it pop up, I kind of lost it.”
Coming into the meet, Hatfield had tweeted about what he thought was coming. With people like Marquis Dendy, who had won the NCAA title two weeks before, and former Olympians Marquise Goodwin and Christian Taylor, Hartfield was certain there were going to be some high marks set. He was right. Dendy won the event with his first jump, 28-5 3/4.
Hartfield was jumping 26 to 27 feet early in the competition, and then Goodwin hit 27-5 1/2 on his fourth jump to knock Hartfield to sixth place. “I was like, ‘Oh no, come on now,'” he said.
So Hartfield said he put himself in “time out.” He walked to the back of the runway to give himself a pep talk: “You know what? You’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re jumping like a punk right now. You’re acting like you don’t know how to jump right now. Let’s get it together. … Your turn: What are you going to do.”
He explained, “I kind of tightened myself up like that. You know, talk a little trash to myself, you know, get myself going.”
Now that Hartfield has made the team, he will take time to visit family who was watching the Livestream online from the East Coast, continue training and compete in some meets abroad before worlds. He’s excited about the caliber of jumpers the U.S. will bring and hopes another of his predictions may come true — getting all of the Americans on the podium.
But before all that, Hartfield will spend some time with his mom. He will tell her, “‘Hey, we’re going to China.’ So hopefully keep that momentum going and next year, maybe going to Rio.
She’d love that.”