Missouri long jumper earns fifth in field of standout SEC athletes

Saturday, May 11, 2013 | 10:26 p.m. CDT; updated 10:33 p.m. CDT, Saturday, May 11, 2013
Missouri hosted the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday.

COLUMBIA — Clap, clap, clap.

A fist pump. A lean forward, then back, then forward again.

It's how Missouri senior Malcolm Pennix begins his running start into his first long jump attempt at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday. An attempt resulting in a 7.63-meter jump, giving him the lead.

It's how he tries to start every jump to get in the zone.


A single clap this time. It's not deliberate, it doesn't invite the crowd to join in, like his pre-jump ritual. It's quick, sharp, disappointed.

Its quickness matches the speed with which the official whipped up the red flag at Pennix's second attempt — a foul.

But it's just a clap, a brief response, before Pennix is back in his all-gold warmups, preparing for the next attempt. He stays focused on himself, on improving, on staying in the zone that his pre-jump routine helps him achieve.

Clapping continued, from the fans this time, after Pennix's 7.72-meter third attempt. That was it for the first round, but Pennix didn't stop.

As the officials went over the first-round results to determine who would make it to the final, Pennix rarely stopped moving.

A march-like form drill on the track next to the long jump sand pit. Stretching on the field. Pacing.

He was lying on the grass, feet in the air in a stretching position, when the announcers said he would be competing in the final round.

Applause ensued, but not for Pennix's jumps.

It was for Florida's Marquis Dendy's 8.29-meter leap, the second best in the world this year, edging out LSU's Damar Forbes' 8.17-meter mark to continue the battle for first place.

Pennix's attempts instead brought angry remarks from the crowd, who disagreed with the three fouls that Pennix received to end his final round. A fifth-place performance.

That's what you don't see on TV a voice in the crowd said. That emotion.

Clap, clap, clap.

"He's looking for some help here," the announcer said as Forbes stood on the runway, about to attempt his last jump, inviting cheers from the crowd the way Pennix did. He needed an 8.30-meter jump to defeat Dendy, and this was his last shot.

After the announcement came, it was an 8.34, he burst forward, pointing to the sky, hardly able to believe it.

"Jubilation," Forbes said. 

As Forbes celebrated his first SEC title, as well as jumping the farthest of anyone in the world this year, Pennix sat on the end of a nearby bench, finally still, with a front row seat to the emotion not everyone can see on TV.

But Pennix's performance, as well as Forbes' record-breaking jump, inspired an emotion of Pennix's own.


Just like he did after his fouls, he'll get right back into the zone.

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.

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