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(New Orleans, La.) In less than two years, Dillard University long-jumper Quamel Sessoms (SO/Portsmouth, Va.) has dominated his competition on both the conference and national level.
In his freshman campaign, he was crowned 2016 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Men's Long Jump champion, leaping a distance of 7.13 meters. Two months later, he improved his conference mark by leaping 7.27 meters at the 2016 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men's Track and Field Outdoor Championship, finishing seventh overall in the nation.
In his sophomore campaign, Sessoms beat his previous personal record (PR) by leaping 7.67 meters at the 2017 GCAC Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship and was named GCAC Men's Long Jump champion for the second consecutive year.
"I wanted to win that thing," said Sessoms, regarding last year's NAIA national championship. "Although I was battling an injury at nationals, I gave it my all. Last year was my freshman year so I was just focused on making All-American (top eight at nationals) and I did just that, but this year I know I can win it all. I have been eating healthier, lifting more weights and stretching more, so I feel a lot stronger this year," Sessoms explained.
The young phenomenon from Portsmouth, Va. is currently ranked second in the entire NAIA in the men's long jump, trailing just one individual from Keiser University who leaped over eight meters last month. He humbly acknowledges and gives credit to his coaches.
"My coaches have made me mentally strong based on our workouts," said Sessoms. "They taught me how to be patience and about perseverance. They taught me that just because you go to a small school doesn't mean you have to have small results; you should always think big."
As for Dillard Head Track and Field Coach Bobby Williams, he jokingly admits that sometimes you get lucky in the recruiting game.
"Honestly, Quamel fell in my lap," said Williams. "When he was in high school in Virginia, he filled out an online questionnaire on our website (www.dillardbleudevils.com) and when I read it and saw his times, I was shocked that he enquired about coming to Dillard. After that I gave him an offer right away and he committed. He had stated that he wanted to go to a bigger university but he did not get accepted. He has family in the city so he looked at Dillard."
Sessoms is just 0.35 meters away from the Olympic mark of 8.02 meters. His coach feels that he has a solid chance of reaching his dreams. On Thursday, May 25, Sessoms will have a chance to make the Olympic mark when he participates in the qualifying round of the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championship in Alabama in the men's long jump and 4x100 meter relay.
"He has a dream of chasing the 8.02 meter mark to start jumping on the Olympic circuit," said Williams. "He is a very special athlete. He has done the long, triple and high jump, he has sprinted, he has done pole vault and he has hurdled for us. We will do our best to push him to Olympic status."
For more information on the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, click here.