David Carter’s football season ended just two weeks after it began, when a brutal hit left him with a broken jaw. But the injury came with a silver lining: fresh legs. “What he lost in football,” Denison Track Coach Mark FitzPatrick says, “he was able to gain in track.” Carter proved it this winter, setting a school record of 47 feet, 5 inches in the triple jump and defending his NCAC indoor title in the same event.
A 5-foot, 6-inch, 150-pound junior, Carter makes up for a lack of size with a surplus of what FitzPatrick calls “competitive excellence—whatever he does, he wants to be the best.” With that in mind, we asked Carter to break down the form that helped him rewrite the Big Red record book.
The Approach: Carter takes an eight-step approach, broken down into three parts: The first three steps are head down, like a sprinter coming out of the blocks; over the next three strides, he straightens up as he accelerates to his top speed; the last two steps come in quick succession, with the final one launching the “hop” that is the first of the event’s namesake trio of jumps.
The Hop: Carter hits the board and launches off his left leg. “That’s where you ‘cycle,’” he says, comparing it to pedaling a bicycle with one leg. “If you watch from the side, you’d see my left heel come up near my butt, then extend back out, and I land back on it, making sure it’s right under me.”
The Skip: Also known as the “bound,” this second jump leaves Carter briefly looking like he’s a runner frozen in midair: right leg now cocked in front, left leg all the way behind. He lands on his right foot and transitions into the final step.
The Jump: “I think a lot about the amount of force you absorb in those three steps,” Carter says. “It just amazes me what the human body can do.” The last of those, coming off his right foot, is essentially a one-legged long jump. From there, it’s arms and legs forward, flying as far as he can until finally plunging into the sand.