First-team All-America honors became official Monday afternoon for Northwestern State junior long jumper Emmanuel Williams, fourth in the event Friday night at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with a career-best 25-7 ¼ leap.
Williams became the 19th NCAA Division I Indoor All-American in school history, and the first since 2004, when Lady Demon great Stephanie Sowell earned All-America recognition for the second consecutive year in the women's long and triple jumps. He gives the NSU program its 71st Division I All-America honor won since 1980, including a 1981 NCAA Outdoor national championship in the 4x100 meter relay, a 1990 NCAA Indoor championship by Brian Brown in the men's high jump, and the 2011 national title in the women's discus by Trecey Rew.
"I'm still amazed by it all," said Williams. "I've achieved one of my biggest goals when I came here, to earn All-America honors. I was hoping to finish well enough to get on the (eight-man awards) podium and be a first-team All-American, but it turned out even better than I thought it could. My coach (Wesley Miller) made some good suggestions that helped me get the jump I needed."
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released its list of All-America recipients Monday afternoon, giving first-team status to the top eight finishers, second-team status to the next eight, and honorable mention to any qualifiers who aren't able to record a mark at the national meet.
Williams, making his first national meet appearance as one of 16 qualifiers in the event at Albuquerque, N.M., overcame a foul on his first attempt and a subpar mark on his second try with a 25-7 ¼ leap that kept him in the competition, ranking him third and advancing him to the nine-man finals. While he didn't better the mark on his next three tries, the junior from Duson and Acadiana High School gave NSU its top NCAA Indoor performance in 10 years.
"I put my foot down early and got a mark on my second attempt, so on the third one, I was able to go for a big jump. We adjusted my approach and I was able to execute and hit it just right," said Williams. "I'm just proud to represent NSU, my teammates and my coaches.
Arkansas sophomore Jarrion Lawson won with a 27-6 ½ leap, followed by Rutgers junior Cory Crawford (26-3 ½), freshman Rolf Pienaar of Arkansas State, Williams and Nebraska junior Patrick Raedler (25-6). Pienaar had the same best mark as Williams but placed third because his second-best jump Friday night was longer than Williams' next best.
It's the sixth All-America award won in the last 10 months by the NSU program, which picked up five at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships.