AUSTIN, Texas — Roschell Clayton (Montego Bay, Jamaica) earned second-team All-America honors in the junior high jump on Saturday night in his first NCAA championship appearance. In one of the strongest fields at the event in recent years, Clayton finished tied for 14th after clearing the bar 1.81 yards (5-11 14) at Mike A. Myers Stadium with a group of elite jumpers. Saturday night at the NCAA Championships, Clayton competed in a rigorous competition that included seven bar raises before a winner was declared.
Clayton landed three good jumps that night, the finest of which was a 1.81-metre effort on his second down. It was just a centimeter short of the personal best she set two weeks prior in the NCAA East preliminary event. With that result, Clayton moved up to second place all-time at her school in the high jump, and she finished tied for fourth place overall, earning her a berth in that year’s national final. week.
Clayton’s last three meetings of the season produced a great season total. She set a new personal best of 1.82 meters at the regional meet in Jacksonville a month after winning her first BIG EAST title at the Villanova track. Each of the twenty contestants cleared the bar individually in the early rounds. Only one competitor was eliminated in the first two height categories (1.73m and 1.78m). There were 19 competitors left after the next bar height increase to 1.81 meters. By contrast, after the first three tops of last year’s national championships, there were only 14 competitors left. On Saturday, there were 76 jumps over the bar, eight more than the previous season.
On Saturday night, Clayton continued where she left off in the NCAA East preliminaries and leaped easily over the first height. His first attempt at 1.78 meters failed, but his second was a resounding success. At 1.81m, where the bar wobbled but held after his second attempt, the same pattern held. Three times in her career she has reached a competition height of 1.80 meters or more: once as a freshman indoors in 2021, and twice in back-to-back events to complete the 2023 outdoor season.
Clayton’s effort Saturday puts him among the best in Wildcats history. She joins former colleague Sanaä Barnes (2019, 2021, 2022) as Villanova’s first female All-American in one of the jumps, and javelin thrower Jen Pastore (1995, 1996), as an All -American in any field event for the Wildcats. In the high jump, Clayton is one of five Villanova women to have won the BIG EAST Championship.
The Wildcats have qualified at least two athletes for the NCAA championships for the sixth straight year and the eighth time in the past nine outdoor seasons. Clayton, who qualified Saturday night, and Lydia Olivere, a fifth-year distance runner from Wilmington, Delaware, who qualified for the 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals Thursday night, both made their national debuts outdoors this year. Two of the nine BIG EAST athletes who competed in this week’s NCAA Championships came from Villanova, demonstrating the program’s team depth throughout the 2023 season.