North Texas Daily

Senior high jumper Wilcox soaring to new heights with competitive edge

Senior high jumper Wilcox soaring to new heights with competitive edge

March 24
09:43 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceWaddell15

The bar was set – literally. It sat at just over seven feet, and all senior high jumper Eddie Wilcox had to do was clear it to claim the gold medal at the Conference USA Indoor Championships.

But before he could soar over the bar and ultimately claim first place, Wilcox had to get over one final hurdle – himself.

“The mind of Eddie is pretty negative,” Wilcox said. “It’s weird, but it works out for me. It’s like, ‘If you don’t do this, you’re a failure.’”

While failure is never considered an option for some, Wilcox uses the pessimistic outlook to his advantage.

“It motivates me because I’m pumping myself up,” Wilcox said. “I’m not about to be a failure.”

Wilcox began his high jumping career in middle school, when all he possessed was size and a little natural ability. After discovering his love for the sport in a P.E. class in sixth grade, Wilcox started entertaining the idea of jumping on a regular basis. He went on to win several events for his junior high team before realizing high jumping was something he had the potential to excel in.

Little did he know, high jumping was a family tradition and actually ran in his blood. Wilcox’s father was also a high jumper and produced some impressive numbers himself.

Senior Eddie Wilcox competes in the high jump during the Conference USA Championships. Jimmy Wilcox | Conference USA

Senior Eddie Wilcox competes in the high jump during the Conference USA Championships. Jimmy Wilcox | Conference USA

In fact, it was not until the indoor championships last month that Wilcox surpassed his father’s top mark.

“My dad was very proud of me,” Wilcox said. “I shed a couple of tears. It felt great because I was able to say I finally won conference. And on top of that, I got to beat my dad before I left.”

Although Wilcox is six feet six inches tall and a phenomenal athlete, it’s his competitiveness that sets him apart.

Whether it’s a ping-pong game with teammates or offering to throw the javelin in an event completely foreign to him, the desire to win and be the best is one of Wilcox’s distinguishing qualities.

“It really hypes everybody up,” head track and field coach Carl Sheffield said. “Everything he does, he’s always bouncing around.”

The competitive nature Wilcox has for his event is evident. No matter what he is doing, Wilcox wants to be top dog.

That same passion goes well beyond serving Wilcox’s personality, too. It’s a key aspect of his game, because at the end of the day, the event he competes in is a solo one.

“When it comes down to it, it’s just him,” Sheffield said. “Other guys drop off, and the bar keeps going higher. He has to keep jumping. I think he’s tapped into that.”

Since arriving at North Texas as a transfer from Pima Community College in 2014, Wilcox has steadily improved his game. His workout routine has become more intense and his diet increasingly more disciplined. Coaches and teammates often find Wilcox in the weight room or receiving treatment far before others even arrive.

Wilcox’s decision to revamp his approach essentially came down to one thing – harnessing the potential others told him he was capable of.

“My high school coach saw this lanky, tall kid walking around who happened to have some jumping ability,” Wilcox said. “When I became a big contender was at my junior college. Before that, I would just jump to get over the bar. Now, I’m jumping and thinking through my jumps. There’s been a lot of growth.”

Integrated studies business senior Eddie Wilcox poses for a photo after winning gold in the men’s high jump with a career best 2.17 meters. Courtesy | Conference USA

Integrated studies business senior Eddie Wilcox poses for a photo after winning gold in the men’s high jump with a career best 2.17 meters. Courtesy | Conference USA

Freshman jumper Jourden Taylor attested to Wilcox’s work ethic and said he is one of the most focused members of the track and field team, adding he believes there is no one on the squad quite like Wilcox.

“He gives me something to strive for myself,” Taylor said. “He’s a senior, and that’s somebody I can look up to. The way Eddie approaches training, it’s a lot different than anyone else on the team. Before I got here, I didn’t focus on how my body [felt] or what I was eating. I’ve just been taking tips from him.”

According to Taylor, one of the most fundamental aspects of training to prepare for high jumps is squatting – yet another activity Wilcox takes extremely seriously. Always pushing himself and Taylor to the limit, Wilcox tries to squat as much weight as he safely can to strengthen his legs in preparation for liftoff.

Perhaps the most significant part of Wilcox’s high jumping career has been his family. Only an hour away in Irving, they were the prime reason he chose to transfer to North Texas two years ago.

“I’m a family guy and I like to be around family,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox has approximately seven weeks left in a Mean Green uniform before he graduates in May. With the C-USA Outdoor Championships approaching in mid-May, Sheffield said there is no question Wilcox has cemented himself as one of the greatest track and field athletes to ever compete at North Texas.

“I wish we had his leadership one more year,” Sheffield said. “He’ll join an elite group of high jumpers at North Texas. He will be one of the best.”

Featured Image: Integrated studies business senior Eddie Wilcox poses for a photo on the Fouts Field track before practice. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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