Despite setting a new, wind-legal personal-best in the event, former LaFayette High School state long jump champion Damarcus Simpson finished in fourth place at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday night.
The finals, which had to be delayed as track temperatures soared to 108 degrees at Hawyard Field on Sunday afternoon, were held at 11:30 p.m. EST.
Simpson's second jump of 7.85 meters (25-feet, 9.25-inches) in Friday's qualifying was good enough to get him the 12th and last spot in Sunday's finals. There, the top eight jumpers after three rounds would get three more jumps to finish up the event.
Jumping at his former home track, Simpson went 7.95 meters (26-1) on his first jump of the finals, but improved to 8.19 meters (26-10.5) on his second attempt, setting a new career-best and briefly putting him into the No. 2 spot behind former Florida Gator, Marquis Dendy, who leaped 8.38 meters (27-6) on his second attempt.
But in the third round, Simpson was passed by Texas Longhorn Steffin McCarter, who reached 8.26 meters (27-1.25) and current LSU phenom JuVaughn Harrison, the 2021 NCAA indoor and outdoor champion in both the long jump and the high jump, who had a career-best of 8.47 meters (27-9.5) to take over the top spot.
With three final jumps remaining after making the final eight, Simpson fouled on his fourth attempt and went 8.02 meters (26-3.75) on his fifth jump. His sixth and final attempt was his second-best of the day at 8.08 meters (26-6.25), but not enough to get into the top three.
Simpson finished fourth in the standings, two spots ahead of reigning Olympic champion Jeff Henderson, who was sixth at 8.08 meters. It was four spots higher than Simpson finished at the 2016 U.S. Olympics Trials, where he took eighth place.
After winning a pair of NCAA Division II outdoor long jump championships at Chadron State (Neb.) and taking the long jump title at the famed Penn Relays in 2016, Simpson transferred to the University of Oregon. There, he set a new program record on his very first competitive jump as a Duck at 8.01 meters (26-3.5).
A three-time All-American at Oregon, Simpson was the Pac-12 long jump champion in 2017 and 2018, part of the Pac-12 4x100 meter relay championship team in 2017 and was the Pac-12 Men's Field Athlete of the Year in 2018.
He finished third at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in California in 2017 and turned professional after college. His first international victory came in Minsk, Belarus in Sept. of 2019 when he jumped what was then a personal-best of 8.17 meters (26-8).
Simpson was the GHSA Class AAA state long jump champion with the Ramblers in 2011 (23-5) and was state runner-up the following year as a senior (23-9.5).