(Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota)
Floyd Whitaker, a graduate of NJ's Highland Regional, exploded with a stunning performance on his final attempt when he soared his way to a fifth place finish in the triple jump with a gigantic personal best of 52-6.25 at the World Under-20 Championships at Pascual Guerrero Olympic Stadium on Friday night in Cali, Colombia.
Whitaker, a rising sophomore at the University of Minnesota, smashed his previous PR by over a foot, climbed all the up to No. 2 in school history, and No. 25 on the U.S. list this season. The event was won by Arkansas-bound Jayden Hibbert of Jamaica with a remarkable meet record jump of 56-8, No. 8 all-time on the U20 list and No. 2 all-time on the U18 list.
Whitaker's former PR was 51-5.25, which he hit this past indoor season, and his previous best outdoor performance came on Thursday in the qualifying round when he registered a 50-11.75. Whitaker joined Keita Cline as the only Gophers to ever surpass 16.00 meters in the event. Cline, who represented the British Virgin Islands at the Olympics in 1996 and 2000, set the Minnesota school record of 53-1 in 1992.
After making the final on Friday with a 51-2.75 in the third round, Whitaker moved from seventh place to fifth with his clutch final attempt. Whitaker, second behind Solomon Washington of the University of Texas at the USATF Under-20 Championships in June, 50-9.50 to 50-4.50, avenged that defeat to finish as the top American. Solomon placed 8th with a 51-0.25.
During his days at Highland Regional, Whitaker established himself as one of the best horizontal jumpers in NJ high school history by winning four Meet of Champions titles, and a capturing a national title.