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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 24, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Making big leaps

The men’s track and field team recently won its first Eastern College Athletic Conference championship, but because of a hamstring injury, the team was without one of its top long jumpers, junior Kyle Devins.

“It was great to see us win,” he said. “But I wish I could have been a part of it to help the team, so it was tough.”

Devins is one of the leaders for the Bombers and was recently ranked third nationally in the long jump.

Devins attended Ausable Valley High School where he was the only long jumper on the team.

“Other people on the team would do the long jump occasionally,” Devins said. “But I was the only person on the team where jumping was my main event.”

Devins said he started doing track in about seventh grade, but it wasn’t until freshman year of high school when he discovered his talent for the long jump.

“At the first meet the coach said he was going to put me in the long jump because we didn’t really have long jumpers on the team,” Devins said. “I was new at it, so he put me into the event as a nonscorer.”

After a successful jump, Devins decided to pursue the event.

“I didn’t have an amazing jump, but I ended up winning the event,” Devins said. “I didn’t score any points because I was a nonscorer, but it was still cool to win. That’s when I realized I wanted to do the long jump.”

As a sophomore in high school, he won his state sectional, and as a junior and senior he qualified for states. But even with his success, Devins said he had a lot to learn.

“In high school I had a pretty poor understanding of technique,” Devins said. “I just kind of ran and jumped.”

Robert Devins, who held the long jump record at SUNY-Cortland from 1971 into the 1980s, was glad his nephew made the decision to go to Ithaca College.

“I knew he would get quality coaching from [Head Coach Jim Nichols],” his uncle said. “I could see [Kyle’s talent] in high school, and I told him pretty soon he would be breaking my records.”

Devins finally broke his uncle’s longest jump this season.

“My uncle jokes that it took 40 years for an Ithacan to finally beat a Cortland jumper,” Devins said. “And that’s only because I’m his nephew.”

Genetics isn’t the only reason why Devins has had success at jumps: Hard work and attention to details also show why he is a leader on the team. He has qualified for the ECAC championship in at least one event every season and is a three-time provisional qualifier and one-time automatic qualifier for the NCAA championship. Devins doesn’t take all the credit for his success, though — passionate teammates and a good coaching staff also help.

“All the long jumpers on the team are close, and we work together,” he said. “Nichols has a great philosophy as well. He is a big reason why I wanted to come to the Ithaca track program.”

Now in his third year on the team, Devins is the oldest long jumper. His younger teammates have benefited from his experience.

“When the season started Kyle absolutely helped me,” freshman long jumper Brian Maley said. “Not just visually, but physically, he understands, so when he critiques you it helps because he knows what muscles you use when you jump.”

Devins, a three-time academic All-American, said his athletic training major crosses over and helps him with track. His teammates agree.

“He is definitely very knowledgeable in his major and with all the events,” sophomore long jumper Travis Johnson said. “The younger kids look up to him because he leads by example and gives good advice. It’s beneficial to have someone like that on the squad.”

Even though he automatically qualified for nationals, injuries kept Devins from competing. He said it was especially frustrating because his qualifying jump was farther than the winning jump at nationals.

“Everyone on the team has had injuries,” Devins said. “I strained my hamstring in January and tried to come back early to help the team at states and re-injured it. I am planning to come back for our meet at Moravian [College] in two weekends.”

Coming off their first ECAC championship, the Bombers are set to take that to the outdoor track.

“From what people are saying, it sounds like we are one of the best teams that have ever been here,” Devins said. “But we don’t want to get complacent. We want to work hard and defend our title outdoors.”