Cougar’s Scott Joseph’s leaps into the Canadian record books
The rookie set a U-20 Canadian record in the long jump with mark of 7.73m
While news in the sporting world has been dominated by cancellations and interruptions from the coronavirus pandemic, some fantastic performances by the U of R track and gield Team have been overshadowed. On Mar. 5-7, the Cougars were in Edmonton, Alberta competing against the best varsity athletes from across the country.
At the competition they picked up four medals, two of them Gold. Second year multi-event phenom Joely Welburn won the women’s heptathlon and added a bronze medal in the long jump where fellow Cougar Erika Stockhorst came fourth. On the men’s side, the 4×800m team of Alexander McBride, Brayden Mytopher, Ret Brailsford, and Ron MacLean picked up a photo finish bronze. Rookie Scott Joseph added a gold medal in the long jump, which earned him U Sports Rookie of the Year honours.
Joseph’s jump held extra significance; it broke a 45-year-old U-20 Canadian record. The record was set by Olympian James McAndrew’s in 1975. Scott now sits 14 cm short of the Canadian U-23 record of 7.87 and 27 cm short of the senior Canadian record of 8.02, marks he has four years left of eligibility to chase. Despite the hefty company, Joseph is still hungry and humble.
“It’s a great feeling to be honest. I just don’t want to take it as a big thing to make my head bigger. I just take it in try to humble myself down and see what the next competition is and how far I can jump, honestly.”
Coming into the competition, Joseph had the top jump in U Sports with his mark of 7.67m from Can West. As a rookie, coming into a first national meet can be intimidating, especially with expectations for gold. Was Joseph feeling the pressure?
“I felt I did have an expectation and everybody else had an expectation. It was kind of scary, kind of nervous for me because everybody else’s expectation was pretty high.”
Is this motivating or stressful?
“I would say both, it was kind of stressful and motivation because everybody believed in me so I kind of used that going into the competition.”
It looked more like motivation than stress for the poised rookie, who continued his dominance, winning the competition by 30 cm.
“It’s the best long jump competition I’ve ever been in. The people I went against were really incredible, the best jumpers I’ve been against, really nice people. The atmosphere was so different there. It was just amazing honestly; everybody was focused in everybody was ready to compete against each other to jump far. The energy at the track was just different.”
This energy helped Joseph to reach his best mark on his sixth jump, a jump that allowed him to surpass his competitors to take the lead. Joesph is beginning to get a reputation for coming in clutch, he won his Canada West gold on his final jump of the competition and put it together at the end again at nationals.
“I think that’s what its been looking like lately. I think ‘it’s my last jump’ and I just go all out and give it everything I have.”
In a competition like long jump, these kind of clutch performances at the back of a competition are difficult; when the line between disqualification and a new personal best is so slim, how does Joseph get that extra edge?
“I trust in my runway: how consistent I am on the runway and how consistent I can hit the board – I believe in myself and how I’ve done all season.”
On top of his cool and process-oriented approach, Joseph has another X-factor: his team.
“Even before my last attempt all I saw was my whole team. They all stood up and started yelling my name, you got this, and this energy came out of nowhere and I feel like they boost me up that’s my source of energy.”
As soon as the jump came up on the board, Joseph’s teammates mobbed him in celebration, and it’s a moment he likely won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
“When I found out the results, they all came to me I was so happy, basically my second family. I’m so happy to have them as my friends and teammates.”
Now that the university track season is over, Joseph and his teammates get a much-needed recovery period of two weeks, but after that it’s back to the grind. The national champion now has his sights set on World Junior Championships in Kenya. While he is still looking forward to the criteria from Athletics Canada, Scott and his coaches anticipate that if they post an outdoor mark it will be around 7.6m. Generally, athletes jump further outside so that jump is well within Joseph’s 7.73m indoor mark. Rather than resting on his laurels, he is preparing for that; however, with the Tokyo Olympics looming, is the senior team starting to become a goal?
“I’m already thinking about it as a goal, I am not thinking about it soon, but in the future maybe.”
One of the biggest factors in Joseph’s early success is his coach Wade Huber. Huber is a former long jumper himself and actually held the Saskatchewan and U of R records before Joseph surpassed them.
“Wade Huber really is one of the best coaches I’ve had. He went from just asking me what I can do and what I can’t do to figuring out how I can get there. He takes things slow, doesn’t want to rush anything, but everything he has done for me has been good. I can see the progress from six months ago to now.”
“Breaking his record is pretty cool and having him as a long jump specialist is amazing because he has been there, he knows what’s wrong, he knows what’s right.”
While varsity competition is ceased due to the coronavirus, athletes will continue to train as best they can. A contingent of the U of R’s best have an upcoming competition in Louisiana which like most other competitions in the sporting world, currently hangs in the balance. However, no matter what happens going forward one thing seems certain: Joseph will keep jumping further.