Penn's Reynolds takes aim at NCAA high jump title

Penn high jumper Maalik Reynolds. (Rich Schultz/AP)
Penn high jumper Maalik Reynolds. (Rich Schultz/AP)
Posted: June 12, 2014

The only bad thing about starting out with a bang is that it whets people's appetite for more.

That's what happened to Penn's Maalik Reynolds when, as a freshman in 2011, the high jumper soared 7 feet, 53/4 inches - still a Quakers record - to win the Ivy League outdoor track and field championship.

"You do that early in your career, and people keep expecting more from you, which isn't realistic," said Reynolds' jump coach, Joe Klim. "I think people saw that and thought he would be breaking records."

Although Reynolds has not reached that height since, the senior economics major from Atlanta has had a highly decorated career at Penn, in which he has earned all-American status five times, along with a pair of Penn Relays championships.

Reynolds looks to cap his career Friday with a victory at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Ore.

Reynolds' jump of 7-41/2 earned him the Ivy League crown last month, and he is one of seven top-seeded jumpers in Friday's event.

"I'm very comfortable jumping right now," Reynolds said.

Reynolds is not the only Penn athlete making the trip to Eugene. Sophomores Kelsey Hay (women's javelin) and Sam Mattis (discus) also qualified. Hay will throw on Wednesday, Mattis on Friday.

This marks Reynolds' sixth trip to the indoor and outdoor nationals. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Reynolds dealt with season-long ankle injuries that, while not serious, affected his jumps. Earlier this week, Reynolds said he has been injury free.

"In the past, I've had the ankle problems to deal with," Reynolds said. "Last year, my ankle would just lock up. Not this year. Everything has been going really well. I'm just jumping and not putting too much pressure on myself."

Klim brims with confidence when discussing Reynolds' chances.

"He's ready to go; he looks awesome," Klim said. "I have a hard time believing that anybody in the country is better than he is. . . . I'm hoping he's ready to do something special, so we'll see."


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer

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