Juniors Treyton Harris and Aaliyah Armstead lined up next to each other, side-by-side.
Everything was quiet around them, until Harris broke the silence.
Harris, clapping his hands, looked toward the crowd sitting in the bleachers at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex in Bloomington.
“Come on Indiana,” he yelled.
The claps got faster and multiplied by the second. The crowd rallied around them.
Clap. Clap. Clap.
“We need some energy,” Harris shouted.
Clap, clap, clap, clap.
Then, the two took off sprinting down the straight, eventually hurling themselves toward their respective long jump pits. The crowd was bringing the energy around them.
“I usually never start clapping,” Armstead said. “I never have the confidence to get it started.”
It was the support from the home crowd Harris and Armstead needed during the men’s and women’s long jump competitions at the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday. Both would go on to finish third overall and pick up important points for the Hoosiers on day two of the competition.
“I knew if I got the crowd going, it would help me do better,” Harris said. “It ended up making my teammates do better too.”
The crowd was a big part in the two exceeding expectations Saturday. Harris came into the championships ranked fifth in the Big Ten, while Armstead was even lower, seeded sixth.
However, Armstead said the low rankings helped them go under the radar against the rest of the field.
“I actually like coming in being ranked lower,” Armstead said. “It takes the pressure off and you’re able to improve on that ranking easier.”
For Armstead, she didn’t make much noise in the trials. Her first three jumps were all around 6.1 meters and she qualified for finals at seventh overall.
However, on her first attempt of the finals, she exploded with a jump of 6.30 meters. It was a personal record for her and enough to solidify her third-place spot over the course of the final two jumps.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen because I was pretty tired heading into my fourth jump,” Armstead said. “My coach actually had to move me up because I wasn’t on the board during my run through. Once I moved up, he told me to just go after it and see what happens.”
On the men’s side, after fouling on his first attempt of trials, Harris stayed consistent throughout the competition. He cemented his third place spot on his third jump of the day with a mark of 7.50 meters. He then one-upped himself on his next attempt, soaring 7.54 meters into the sandpit.
“I just got my footing down and got my run throughs together,” Harris said. “I’m not too upset with third because I came in and scored more points than expected and helped put my team in a good position to win Big Tens.”
Harris and Armstead both said having each other competing alongside them was a huge motivation booster during the event. As the men’s and women’s competitions commenced simultaneously side-by-side, Harris and Armstead had each other, along with sophomore Leah Moran who qualified for finals and finished ninth overall, for extra support on the sidelines.
“We pretty much just kept saying the same things that we say at practice,” Harris said. “We just kept telling each other to get your knees up and make sure you hit the board. It wasn’t anything different. We were just being there for each other.”
Without Armstead, Harris wouldn’t have had an extra coach helping him along.
As for Armstead, she wouldn’t have had a hype man to get the Bloomington crowd pumped up without Harris.
“When he started to clap while we were going at the same time, it helped a lot,” Armstead said. “Having people yelling your name really helps. The home crowd was a huge advantage.”
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