Otuonye Ready to Shine at NCAA Prelims

"This year my mindset has been different," said Otuonye. "The first two years I wasn't so confident in myself, I just went with the flow, but this year I've really been confident in myself and the way I've been working. I've been more efficient and effective in my workouts, and that has really shown. I'm running great in my workouts and I think that just flowed over into the long jump and made me a better jumper."
His most recent accomplishment in the long jump came just last week at the 2015 Big 12 Outdoor Championships. With a leap of 7.69m/25-02.75 on his fourth attempt in the finals, Otuonye clinched K-State's first conference title in the men's long jump since 1990. It marked Otuonye's first-ever conference title, and, as if that wasn't exciting enough, his jump was a personal best and extended his already-held Turks and Caicos national record. 
"It feels great," said Otuonye about winning a Big 12 title. "These past two years in the long jump just haven't been very good for me, and then this year it's been a big change. This outdoor season I felt like I had to step up to the plate for K-State. At Big 12s, I was the only K-State long jumper there, so to go there and get K-State 10 points, it was a great feeling."
This week, Otuonye will be representing Kansas State in the long jump again, this time at the NCAA West Regionals taking place today through Saturday at Mike A. Meyers Stadium in Austin, Texas. 
"If he jumps to his capability, if he jumps the way he's been jumping, he should move on to the (NCAA Championship) finals," said head coach Cliff Rovelto. "I think he's always been a very good competitor. Never have I been worried about him not lining up and competing. He's always done a good job with that, but I think as far as the long jump goes, his confidence is certainly higher right now than it was a couple years ago."
Crediting his new confidence levels to his new mindset, Otuonye said he's been more relaxed this year in practice. He said his first two seasons he focused on having to jump far and run fast, whereas now, he's said he is focused on simply doing his best. With that mindset, Otuonye is on the path to becoming the best he can be, and it has made a world of difference. 
"He's gotten significantly stronger in the time he's been here both in the weight room and in his capacity to handle more work," continued Rovelto. "He's progressively gotten faster and faster. Part of that is a function of getting stronger, but a lot of it is that he's been more efficient in his running on the track. He's come a long way physically, there's no doubt about that. 
"So, what we're seeing now is the coming together of his increased strength levels, speed and his cleaning up technical things. He's capable of doing things now that when he came in he wasn't able to do."
Coming to K-State from the small Caribbean island of Turks and Caicos, the Wildcat coaches knew Otuonye had potential in both sprinting and jumping when they recruited him, but they also knew he would have to work hard to gain strength and perfect his technique. 
After his stellar performance at the Big 12 Championships, Otuonye is now excited to represent not only K-State but also his nation this week at the NCAA West Regionals.
"Every time I have a PR, it's like breaking my national record again," said Otuonye with a smile. "I take a lot of pride in it. In Turks and Caicos, a lot of people really look up to me as a leader. I'm one of only a few outstanding athletes from Turks and Caicos - there aren't many of us out there - so I've been kind of a role model for the people. To break the national record each time, I think that just adds to being a better role model for those who follow."
Otuonye has what it takes to qualify for this year's NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon - all he has to do now is go out and jump.   
"I'm a little bit nervous because you have to perform well at Regionals to get to Nationals," closed Otuonye, "but coach said if I continue to do what I've been doing this entire season, not stress, just go out and do what I do, that I should make it."
To read more about the K-State Track and Field team as it prepares for the NCAA West Prelims, please click here. 

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