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Hunter ready to appear at the USATF U20 Championships

Hunter ready to appear at the USATF U20 Championships
Hunter ready to appear at the USATF U20 Championships

 


RIO GRANDE VALLEY With a bounce in his step and a determined look on his face, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) freshmanHebrew huntertakes any triple jump track with a similar pattern.

He shakes out his legs and simulates the movements of his phases. When he's ready to go, Hunter places his hands around his mouth to amplify his voice and shouts “turn me up,” drawing out the vowels in each syllable. He then leads the audience in a slow clap, bringing his hands together above his head as others begin to join in. Once a rhythm is established, he beats his legs and gets into his starting position, fidgeting with his cross chain and pointing to the sky. , and leaves.

The routine was put together over time. Hunter first noticed the track flip at a high school meet and enjoyed the way spectators got involved. While working at a summer basketball camp before his freshman year at UTRGV, he noticed that the person in charge of the camp said, “put me on” to get the kids excited.

Hunter carries himself with an easy confidence and youthful exuberance. So it's only fitting that he merged these two experiences into his own signature hype routine, boldly demanding attention before demonstrating his abilities.

“I remember the first time I heard someone clapping at a rally, and then everyone started clapping, and I thought, 'That's some kind of fire.' So I thought I'd give that a try, and I started with it and my punch was completely gone, but I still jumped better in the end,” Hunter recalled.

“When I got to UTRGV I asked the older jumpers what the college meetings were like and they said from the first jump we were clapping and shouting. They had their own chants, like 'Let's go,' so I knew what I was going for do it,” he continued. “At the first meet I went out and I tried, 'Turn me up,' and everyone stopped and looked at me and that's when I knew I could make it. It's different and it gets people's attention. Give me the attention, put the pressure on me, and I'm going to excel.”

Hunter has excelled during his rookie season. He placed third in his collegiate debut at Arkansas, jumping 14.85 meters. He achieved his personal best at the Cactus Cup in April, covering 15.04 meters to finish second. At the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Outdoor Championships, Hunter made the podium with a jump of 14.80 meters and finished fourth.

He's already in the program record books, claiming three of the top 10 indoor triple jumps in school history and ranking No. 5 all-time with his indoor best. His highest outdoor mark ranks seventh in program history.

“I was quite apprehensive going into that first meet, wondering where I would be, how good I would actually have become. Doing well, getting a PR and coming third at my first university meet, it was very eye-opening and confident. I could see the future and from then on I was pretty consistent,” Hunter said.

His consistently good grades were aided by Hunter's ability to meet the demands of a Div. quickly understand and adapt to it. I'm a student-athlete. He always wanted to compete at the highest level, so as an assistant head coach/jumping coachMike EmbryWhen it became clear what that would entail, Hunter immediately stepped in.

He strives to give 100% to everything he does from the moment he wakes up, and to be intentional about his day so that the momentum carries over into practice. In high school, practice started with a light warm-up, just a few stretches and then it's time to go. The first time he went through the warm-up at UTRGV, he knew things would be different.

“Our warm-up, that was the first wake-up call I had in college. We had a 30, 45 minute warm-up. I'm sweating and I feel like I've already done the workout,” laughed Hunter .

Embry and Hunter began freshman training with an emphasis on approach and landing. Once he mastered the technique, they spent more time working specifically on the phases of the triple jump. Speed, track work and landing were the keys to Hunter's success, he said.

Hunter will take everything he has learned – his confidence, competitiveness and energy – to the 2024 USA Track & Field U20 Championships at Hayward Field in Oregon. He will compete in the men's triple jump Thursday at 7:30 PM (CT), chasing a top-six finish and a score of 15.50 meters or better to qualify for selection to the U.S. National Team for the World Championships athletics U20 2024.

It'll be a big moment in an iconic location, but Hunter won't be fazed by it. The more eyes are on him, the more he enjoys the competition and is ready to make the most of his opportunities.

“I've never been to Hayward Field, but I've heard a lot of good things about it. I'm excited because I heard it gets pretty busy, and that's always good for jumps. It boosts my confidence and I'm I'm going to use that to my advantage because I watch a lot of it in person and watch it online,” Hunter said. “When it's my turn to take the stage, I'm going to use all my energy and all my spotlight and get excited.”

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