Chadron State long jumper and LaFayette native Damarcus Simpson saw his bid for a spot on the United States Olympic team come up just a bit short at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon over the weekend.
Simpson, 23, a two-time NCAA Division II outdoor national champion and a two-time indoor runner-up, showed he was worthy of the Trials invitation by placing fourth in Saturday's qualifying round with a mark of 26 feet, 6.5 inches. That mark was two inches longer than his previous personal best, which was his NCAA-winning mark back in May.
That leap earned him one of the 12 spots for Sunday's finals and he started out on Sunday where he left off on Saturday with a new career-best of 26-7.75 on his first jump.
Simpson would foul on his next two jumps, but his first mark was enough to get him into the top eight and earn him one final round of three jumps to decide who would make the Olympic team.
Unfortunately, Simpson would foul on his final three jumps of the day and he would finish in eighth place.
Chadron State jumping coach John Ritzen said the strategy he and Simpson had planned prior to the finals was to get a good opening jump and then go all out on the remaining attempts in hopes of getting a jump that would take him to Rio de Janeiro.
The CSC coach said Simpson’s second jump was at least 27 feet, but he scratched by a narrow margin. A couple of his other attempts also approached 27 feet, but he also took off a trifle past the front of the board.
Jeff Henderson, who previously jumped for Stillman College in Alabama, won with a mark of 28-2.25. Henderson won gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games with a mark of 28-0.25.
University of Arkansas senior Jarrion Lawson (28-1.75) was second, followed by former Florida Gator Marquis Dendy (27-7.5).
Simpson won a Georgia state long jump championship in 2011 and finished runner-up in 2012.
CSC Sports Information Director Con Marshall contributed to this story.