Penn’s Maalik Reynolds had a Franklin Field audience of nearly 50,000 when he won the high jump championship at last year’s Penn Relays, becoming just the fifth Penn man to win the event in 117 Penn Relays.
But as far as the then-freshman knew, it was just him and the bar.
“I don’t focus on the people,” said Reynolds, “just how I’m feeling. There could be 100,000 people, I’d just be by myself.”
Reynolds won last year’s Relays with a jump of 7-3 ¾. He then set his personal best of 7-5 ¾ a week later at the Heptagonal championship meet. He would later earn All-American honors with a tie for seventh place at the NCAA championships, clearing just 7-2.
“That was one of the worst competitions in the high jump in the last few years,” he said of the NCAA meet. “It was a gimme. Whoever wanted it would win.”
Reynolds, a sophomore from Atlanta majoring in economics, is a student of the event. Not his competition, but the event.
“My approach is to do a perfect jump every time,” he said. “You clear a certain height with the right form and the right speed. I don’t focus on the height. My main focus is being technically sound.”
And the competition?
“The high jump itself is a head game, so there’s no need to mess with people,” Reynolds said.
Like most athletes at this year’s 118 Relay Carnival, Reynolds wants to be competing into August. That would put him in London for the Olympics, for which the A qualifying standard is 7-7.
“It will take a perfect jump,” he said. “I think if I get my technique down I have a great chance.”
From here on this college season there’s nothing but championship meets for Reynolds. Starting with the big home meet where he could become the first two-time Quaker to win the college high jump championship.