Treyshon Malone would be the top long jumper this year at Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Cal and both Washington schools. His best jump, 25 feet 5 inches, would put him No. 7 in UA history. That’s 100 years.
Malone is from Yuma. He didn’t get a phone call from Arizona or ASU, although the Oregon Ducks, the league’s ranking track and field school, once sent him an email.
“I’d never really heard of Pima College,” he says.
Sam Shoultz has cleared greater heights in the high jump than all those at Stanford, ASU, Colorado, Cal and the Washington schools this season. His best jump, 7-1¾, is an eyelash behind Arizona’s super freshman Justice Summerset.
Shoultz is about the most unlikely two-time NJCAA national champion you’ll find. “I didn’t start jumping until I was a junior in (Tempe Corona del Sol) high school,” he says. “Once I cleared 6-10 I started getting all these texts from (Pima jumps coach) Chad Harrison. He’s a great salesman. I have found that he’s a great coach, too.”
A few minutes before sunset Wednesday, Malone, Shoultz and Harrison were still on the track at Pima College. Still working toward winning national championships next week in Hutchinson, Kansas. There has been no time to step back and celebrate.
Harrison believes Malone can long jump 26 feet and that Shoultz can high-jump 7-3. When? Now.
A week ago, Malone and Shoultz swept the top awards at the NJCAA Region 1 championship finals; Malone was selected male athlete of the meet, and Shoultz was named male athlete of the year.
“I’ve always dreamt about something like this, having a 25-foot long-jumper and a 7-foot high jumper,” says Harrison, in his 10th season as PCC’s jumps coach. “It’s very rare that you get two athletes of this quality in one year.”
Harrison is a jumps whisperer, if there is such a thing. If the NJCAA gave an award for track and field communicator of the year, Harrison would win it. He videos Pima’s workouts, breaks them down — “dissect them,” he says — and then emails them to his jumpers.
“Give me two years,” he says, “and I’ll get you better.”
This is not idle chatter. Two years ago, Harrison coached Kaysee Pilgrim to the last of three NJCAA high-jump championships. Three years ago he coached Brianna Rodriguez to the NJCAA long-jump title. Harrison helped develop Eddie Wilcox into a 7-foot high jumper, breaking a 30-year-old PCC record.
Now Shoultz owns the school high-jump record and Malone the long-jump record, one that stood 34 years.
All of this track and field excellence didn’t happen by accident. Harrison was a state champion high jumper, sprinter and basketball standout at Benson High School who earned a degree at the UA and became an intensive-care nurse at Tucson Medical Center.
It’s clear that Harrison enjoys the process as much as watching his jumpers get a championship ribbon placed around their neck.
“I believe it’s a better option to come to Pima, get your tuition and fees paid for two years, than walk on at a Pac-12 school, or any place, be just another guy, and build up a school debt,” Harrison says. “Year in and year out, we’ve shown that our kids develop and get scholarship offers. We’ve sent six kids to Idaho State alone. You’re not just going to some random JC when you come to Pima.”
A few hours after Harrison said that, jumps captain Alan Leyva of Douglas accepted a scholarship to NAIA Central Christian College in Kansas.
Pima College has emerged as one of the NJCAA’s elite all-around athletic programs the last decade. The Aztecs have superior men’s and women’s soccer and basketball teams; they’ve become a factor in the wickedly difficult Western States Football League, and PCC’s track, cross country, golf and softball teams are consistently Top 25 quality.
But having Malone and Shoultz peak at the same time is rarefied air.
“I’m a late developer,” says Malone. “I didn’t hit 21 feet until my senior year in high school. When I hit 23 feet, I heard from Chad and got a scholarship. He really believed in me, through a long injury and everything. He pushed me and I’ve achieved. When I hit 25 feet it was the greatest feeling ever.”
When Shoultz arrived at PCC he was probably more well-known for being part of two Corona del Sol state basketball championship teams that produced incoming UA guard Alex Barcello and former Oregon guard Casey Benson. But Shoultz has created his own identity as a late-blooming high jumper at Pima.
On Wednesday, Harrison set the high-jump bar at 7-3. That is Shoultz’s dream jump, and a likely NJCAA championship height. He accepted a scholarship offer from Maryland; Shoultz’s top jump at Pima would already put him eighth in Terrapin history.
A third NJCAA title would be the perfect way to leave Pima and prepare for Big Ten competition.
At last year’s NJCAA championships, the high jump was the day’s final event. All of Shoultz’s PCC teammates and scores of others stood next to the high-jump pit to see the final attempts. The only remaining competitor missed. Shoultz had the last jump.
He cleared it.
“I still watch that video,” he says. “Best feeling ever.”