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Catching up with Marion alum & University of Tennessee high jumper Darryl Sullivan

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KNOXVILLE (WSIL) -- Darryl Sullivan was having a great senior senior as a high jumper at the University of Tennessee. The NCAA season was cut short due to coronavirus concerns and now the Olympics are in jeopardy.

WSIL sports caught up with Sullivan through a video interview via Zoom.

How's it been the last week or so adjusting to the all the postponements and cancellations?

"Not too bad, coming off the NCAA's and having that canceled and coming back here. I've had a week off to dial down and get back into it, so I've been trying to prepare and stay positive about everything with the Olympics coming up so it hasn't been too much. Just an adjustment. Just feels like we are on spring break."

How do you stay mentally sharp and physically sharp with so many unknowns?

"I don't know. I don't think about it too much. I just go. I do what my coach asks me to do, and on top of that I know where I need to be, what I need to do so in order for me to be ready physically whether it is next year or two years, it starts now. I'm not going to take any breaks because my competitiors will be going, going right now and I just can't be sitting around and taking a break. Right now in this moment I feel like this is where champions are made or people are made great so during all this adversity it's just best to keep everything simple mentally and stay positive because I'm going to get back up on the track again and when I do I will be ready for it."

Does it help knowing that being a senior you'll probably get that extra year and you have more options?

"Yeah, does help a lot. In the beginning coming into this year, our goal was to jump the Olympic standard, not necessarily pushing on that but before I did I always told myself I wanted an extra year because I don't know what I'm doing after school, even though I do want to go pro, but jumping that Olympic standard really helped me get closer to my dream of going pro."

I know your collegiate season was cut short, but you were having a fantastic year. When you reflect back on it, what do you take away from it?

"Beginning of the season, my coach and I had a bar to set at 2.33M, 7 feet 7 3/4 inches which is the Olympic standard so I practiced going there every day. He opened up the bar and I'd stare and look at it, make it look low. I had tipped it at one time before, which was last year at Clemson and the record was also 7'7" owned by a guy who went to the Olympics and is a legend at Tennessee and coming to the meet, a short approach I jumped 7 ft 4 1/2 inches which is a half inch below my full approached PR the year prior to and I was excited going into Virginia. I wasn't fully comfortable with my full approach because he was putting me back and taking off further from the bar because the further I'm out the more potential I have to clear at higher bars. Went to the meet and was like coach I'm not sure how to jump and feel better with my shorter approach, in theory not true, so I just went out there and worked on my rhythm that we worked on in practice and really trusting him and not so much the height. He made great decisions going on up to high bars and I think the bar went up to 2.26M which would've been 7 feet, 5 1/4 inches which would've been my PR at 7 feet, 5 1/4 inches. Cleared that by a mile on my third attempt and then he went up to 2.33 M the Olympic standard 7 feet, 7 3/4 inches, barely missing on my first, got it on my second, it was crazy, it was a crazy moment. The whole team was going crazy, the coaches were going crazy. People coming from back home, and posting stuff on social media, it was a great moment and a big jump that came at the right team especially my senior year, the year of the Olympics. Couldn't have been any better, no better time for it to happen and it was definitely a blessing.

How does it make you feel knowing you can hit that Olympic standard?

"It feels great. A dream of mine coming to college in 2016 was to go to the Olympics, never really thought about it too deep. My first two years was a little lower than last year got better this year, just burst back onto the scene. It feels great, not that I never knew that I could do it because I believe in myself, I have that confidence but for me to do it, it's just an eye opener of how good I could be and how much further I can go. I believe me jumping 7 feet, 7 3/4 inches is only the beginning and if I was to go to the Olympics and it's notpostponed, hopefully I would show out there and then hopefully come back for the senior year and jump higher because after I jumped 7'7" the goal was to jump 2.38 M which would've been the collegiate record which is 7 feet, 9 3/4 inches and that would be crazy because that won the Olympics in 2016 and it won world's last year.

Does it help with the psyche with everything that's going on, everything being shut down knowing that you were on that pace and hit that Olympic standard as if you didn't and had to play the waiting game?

"Man, it would be tough, my mentality would be so much different because honestly I didn't know what I was going to do after my senior year of school. I jumped high enough maybe to jump post collegiately by jumping 7 feet, 7 3/4 inches, it put me on a whole another level with some of the top guys but of course I'm going to jump higher and be more competitive but it just changes the outcome of everything. Knowung that this outdoor season got canceled is not as bad because I have something to look forward to and train to which is the Olympics as opposed to somebody who didn't hit the standard and was trying to qualify for the standard, it would be tough not knowing when I'd compete again or whether I'd be able to hit that standard so this kind of gave me like, I could just flow with it because I have plenty of time to adjust things to training and how my body feels."

Jason Hurst

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