Coming respectively from Ontario, Canada, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, it seems rather obvious that the life stories of Jharyl Bowry and Ifeanyi Otuonye are fairly different. However, as they’ve come together on the K-State track and field team as long jumpers, the athletes have found a common goal of success and achievement.
Both have set impressive marks heading into their first season as Wildcats. Otuonye stands as the national record holder in the men’s long jump for the Turks and Caicos Islands and has also competed in the record-holding 4×100 meter relay team.
The freshman was also the silver medalist in the long jump at the 2012 Central American and Caribbean Games.
Bowry transferred from Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan., and won the NJCAA indoor national title last season with a jump of 25-04.39 inches. He also finished second in the outdoor meet.
The junior came in second at the Canadian Olympic Trials but was not able to advance to London, falling just underneath the Olympic standard.
Both of the Wildcat long jumpers have been surprised with their transitions to K-State and are excited for the season to progress.
"Coming from JUCO, I’m not exactly used to all of the stuff here to train with and all of the medical work," Bowry said. "Definitely the three-hour practices and 6 a.m. weights are an adjustment, but it’s worth it in the end so I love every minute of it."
Having to compete in the indoor environment is new for Otuonye, who anticipates a smoother transition to the outdoor season but said he has learned plenty about himself as a competitor so far.
"When we get outdoors, I’ll actually appreciate it a little bit more because it’s what I’m used to," Otuonye said. "I should feel a little more at home and I feel outdoors could be a really good season. I already jumped 7.40 meters indoor and who knows what will happen when we get outside."
With the Big 12 Conference Indoor Championships coming up this weekend, both Bowry and Otuonye stand to improve on marks that currently place them at the topic of the conference.
Bowry, ranked No. 1 in the Big 12, enters this weekend’s competition with a conference and season-best of 24-08.50. Otuonye falls just behind at 24-03.50.
Head coach Cliff Rovelto said that each jumper has a great chance of ranking near the top of the conference standings at season’s end.
"I do think that those two guys are guys that are capable of jumping 26 feet or 25-plus, which in any year would put you up in the top two or three guys," Rovelto said.
Rovelto said Otuonye’s progress in the long jump is impressive, especially because he has been trained to compete in the 400-meter dash.
"He’s a quarter-miler that jumps," Rovelto said. "He has already jumped further indoors than he’s ever jumped in his life."
Otuonye achieved a personal-best performance in his first indoor meet, then exceeded the mark in his second meet, Rovelto said.
"Both of those jumps were longer than he’s ever jumped outdoors," he said. "He’s making really good progress in the long jump even though that’s not what we’re primarily training him for."
Rovelto said Bowry has transitioned well to Division-I competition and hasn’t let his mid-year transferring process get in the way.
"He’s a very gifted guy," Rovelto said. "He jumped really far in his second year of community college and he’s a quality, quality athlete. I think that he has done fine and I think he’ll show significant progress over the next month or so because he’s going to get a little sharper and a little fitter. He did a pretty good job of training in the fall so compared to most of the mid-year guys, he has been working out pretty well."
As competition heats up, both Bowry and Otuonye said it is important not to become over-confident.
"I know for sure that I can pop off another big one," Otuonye said. "I’m not going to become complacent at all because Jharyl is right there and he’s great competition. I don’t know the conference too well, so it makes me want to do better not knowing exactly what’s ahead."
Bowry said that each week will bring added toughness and difficulty to the competition.
"I was ranked eighth [in the nation] the first week of competition and now I’m ranked 11th," Bowry said. "Every week it has to be a steady progress and I’ll never sit on anything I’ve done, because people who do that tend to take it for granted and it can be taken away just that fast."