EUGENE, Ore. -- Marquis Dendy kept his streak going at Hayward Field — and he’s not finished.
After winning the NCAA long jump and triple jump titles at the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Championships for the University of Florida, Dendy uncorked a monster first jump at the 2015 USATF Outdoor Championships on Thursday night to win the long jump.
Dendy’s leap was a wind-aided 28 feet, 5 ¾ inches, eclipsing the first jump of defending national champion and world leader Jeff Henderson. Henderson’s jump, one of the few legal ones on a windy day, was 27-8 ¼.
“I definitely want to go out there strong and make everyone chase me a little bit,” said Dendy, who qualified for his first world championships team in Beijing in August.
He’ll try to make it a double on Sunday in the triple jump.
“I can’t really say which one I like more,” said Dendy, who also swept the 2015 indoor NCAA long jump and triple jump titles and has won seven total collegiate crowns. “I just know that when the time comes, I’m a long jump person and then with the triple jump on Sunday, I’m a triple jump person.”
If Dendy figures out how to hit the board in the long jump, look out. He had plenty of room Thursday.
“The first day I always say, I just don’t want to foul,” he said. “I probably would have jumped farther (with a better takeoff), but I would rather be a little safe than sorry.”
The third qualifier for the world championships team was Michael Hartfield, who jumped a wind-aided 27-7 ½ on his last attempt, presumably causing the Buffalo Bills to heave a sigh of relief.
Hartfield pulled ahead of Marquise Goodwin, the Bills wide receiver competing in his first meet since the London 2012 Olympic Games, where he finished 10th. Goodwin’s best jump was a windy 27-5½.
“My heart — that’s what brought me back,” said Goodwin, who carried some football weight on him.
And what did the Bills think of his return to the track? “I didn’t even ask,” Goodwin says. “I asked my agent if there was anything in my contract to where I couldn’t compete.”
He said he prayed about it and petitioned into the meet.
“It was harmless,” Goodwin said. “I came out and competed. I’m healthy and headed back to football.”
But with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games next year, he can see another comeback. “I assume that I’m going to have that talk with them,” Goodwin said.
Hartfield will be ready for him. “Marquise Goodwin has been whipping my behind since I started track,” he said. “I wanted to get back at him one good time. That was motivation.”
While he had motivation, Dendy had momentum. He also had recent knowledge of the way the wind operates from his NCAA Championships experience.
“It definitely was a good confidence booster,” he said.
On his final jump, Dendy actually had a legal wind and popped a personal record of 27-6 ½, an improvement of two inches.
“That was also my last school record that I didn’t have yet, so I definitely now have all the indoor and outdoor school records (at Florida),” Dendy said, “so that definitely made me light up a little bit.”
Former Gators star Christian Taylor, the reigning Olympic triple jump champion, was 10th and decathlon gold medalist Ashton Eaton placed 14th. Taylor and Eaton have byes into the world championships in their other events and just needed to compete in any event to be eligible for Beijing.
Will Claye, another former Gator and Olympic medalist, is in the triple jump.
“We’re just Jumps U,” Dendy said of Florida’s success. “I guess I’ve got to keep that secret with us. If you want to know, just come (to Gainesville).”
Karen Rosen is an Atlanta-based sportswriter who has covered 14 Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2009.