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Sunday, May 26
The Indiana Daily Student


10-time all-American Wilson nears Olympic spot

10-time Hooosier all-American Aarik Wilson finishes off a jump at the 2005 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., where he finished 3rd. While at IU, Wilson won an NCAA title in the Long Jump and Triple Jump during the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships and will aim to earn a spot on the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Team this weekend.

FALLON, Nev. — Aarik Wilson, a 10-time all-American in track at Indiana, is on the verge of achieving his lifelong dream.\nWilson will attempt to qualify for the Summer Olympics in Beijing when he competes this weekend in the U.S. Olympic trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.\nWilson, who graduated from Nevada's Churchill County High School in 2001 and Indiana in 2005, has spent the last four years trying to improve on his failed attempt to make the Olympics in 2004.\nHe finished 14th at the Olympic Trials with a jump of 16.09 meters (52 feet, 9.5 inches) but has been unstoppable since.\n"Back in 2004 I didn't realize how nervous I was until I actually got a chance to sit back and look at film," Wilson told the Lahontan Valley News in a recent interview.\n"The mental part was missing. It's 80 percent mental, 20 percent physical, if not more."\nWilson's mother, Kirsten, said he's in a better position to qualify this time around.\n"He has had so much experience internationally now and has been able to learn and compete under pressure," she said. "His experience is going to make all the difference from the last trials. It was heartbreaking. I don't see that happening this time. He knows what to do."\nWilson credits his longtime High School track and football coach Paul Orong for getting him started in the sport.\n"He got my whole love for the sport, really," Wilson said. "I've been really devoting myself to track ever since I got into it. The connection I've had with my coaches is more comfortable than anything else."\nOrong, who himself participated in the 1984 Olympic Trials at the Los Angeles Coliseum where he placed 13th in the long jump, first saw Wilson during football and persuaded him to do track instead of baseball.\n"When I first met him, and he wanted to play baseball, I told him don't play baseball, you're coming out for track," Orong said. "You never know when you first get somebody and the special talent they have. With him I knew early. I call it scary talent where the sky's the limit. He's the biggest competitor you'll ever get."\nAfter a couple years of training, Wilson reached the highest plateau in high school track and field. He went to state as a freshman and then won the triple jump title as a sophomore in Las Vegas.\nHe reached a personal best in the triple jump last year when he leaped 17.58 meters (57-8.25) as he won both national championships at the AT&T USA Indoor and Outdoor meets. He had two other marks that gave him the best three in the triple jump by an American in 2007 and he finished the season with a No. 4 world ranking.\n"The United States, by far, is the toughest to make it to the world championships or an Olympic team," he said. "I feel great and real confident. I honestly believe I'm the best jumper in the country and I'm ready to prove it."\nWilson said Orong's advice for the trials is "go and relax."\n"The Olympics are the equivalent of the Super Bowl times a thousand," the Fallon track and field co-head coach told Wilson. "You take the trials and the top three makes it, anything can happen. You have to relax and be you. In track venues, it doesn't get bigger than this. This is the equivalent to a World Cup when you have that many spectators and that many countries. I told him to relax and be him."\nMost of Wilson's family will attend this weekend's trials, and some already have purchased their tickets to Beijing.\n"We're all planning on that. I told them actually last year to plan on going," Wilson said. "I don't take anything for granted but at the same time, I put in the training and the work and that's what I believe will happen."\nOrong said the whole community is excited about Wilson's chance to be the first person from Fallon to compete in the Olympics.\n"You take a kid from here who's going to be on the biggest stage. We made shirts that say 'Why not here? Why not Fallon?' He has a chance of performing on the biggest stage in the world. He's representing everybody"

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