For a college freshman to enter into any event whether it is on the track or on the field, no matter what it is, that person could feel a little nervous. It is not uncommon. So it was with Albert Huggins and Peter Dehazya, field specialists on the City College of New York track and field team.
They became two of the overall 22 competitors, including 11 freshmen, in the long jump during the 30th annual Yale Intercollegiate Track Classic at the Coxe Cage in New Haven, Connecticut. Dehazya cleared 5.73 meters or 17 feet 6 inches, a distance that earned him 10th place. Huggins jumped 4.81 meters or 14-5 ¾ which earned him 21st place overall. In fact, Dehazya is leading the City University of New York Athletic Conference, or in other words, is the top long jumper this season.
Their first meet came on Jan. 7, a week prior to the Yale one, during another indoor meet at West Point.
“You do get nervous until you do actually start an event,” said Huggins after their specialty. “Once the event gets rolling, the butterflies go away. It’s nice jumping here at Yale. The jumping wasn’t too bad. Everything is a learning experience. We have to do better and just have to train for it (future meets).”
Practices are limited. When they do practice at the college, they are running to get their form and strategy down. There are no long jump pits or (proper facilities) in the CCNY gymnasium.
The goals of the runners as well as the field specialist are to stay healthy and try to produce at the Conference meets. There will be other strong teams, as well, at the Conference meets. For the freshmen, it’s learning experience that counts right now.
After the long jump, Huggins and Dehazya competed in the 60-meter dash. Huggins was clocked in 7.33 while his teammate was recorded in 7.41 for 16th and 22nd places, respectively and therefore did not qualify for the finals.
They feel a lot more relaxed on a flat track. They must get used to competing on a banked track.
Huggins, who hails from St. Thomas, is accustomed to outdoor competition. His specialties are events up to the 400 meters, including the sprints. After high school, he tried the long jump and triple jump for his first time. After the long jump, he cleared 11.27 meters in the triple jump for eighth place in the finals of the Yale Classic.
“We attempt to find the talent that the athletes have,” said CCNY’s track and field coach Hugh Reid. “Some people may be sprinters, but they (also) have great jumping ability. Albert tried the long and triple jumps. And he liked (both events). His jumping is coming along. He still has a lot of work to do.”
Finding athletes who are interested in sprints and having a passion and love for it is what the coach has to look for in an individual.
In addition, City College, located in the Harlem section of Manhattan, lacks proper indoor facilities to stage a complete meet and also doesn’t offer to a high school senior full track and field scholarships. Known more for the sport of basketball, CCNY, a NCAA Division III school, competes against a lot of Division I colleges. Because of the nature of the sport, this is a normal situation.
The City College intercollegiate sports teams competes in the City University of New York Athletic Conference with schools such as York, Hunter, Lehman and Brooklyn. Toward the end of the season, the CUNYAC stages championships in various sports. At the same time, for meets Reid doesn’t believe in staying in the local metropolitan area and takes the team elsewhere.
“Our goals are to win the CUNYAC championship and to qualify for the Division III Nationals. We are working hard toward the Nationals,” said Reid
CCNY is headed toward competing in the Collegiate Track Conference meet on Feb. 11 and meets elsewhere, including the facilities at Princeton, Bucknell and East Stroudsberg.