This Texas State Recruit Turned Into A Major NCAA Talent

* Chris Preddie competes in the long jump over the 2023 season

Photo Credit: Texas State Athletics

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By Tim Casey - MileSplit Recruiting Reporter

Chris Preddie is accustomed to thriving in big meets at the University of Texas in Austin.

As a senior at Little River Academy (TX) last year, he won the long jump and triple jump at the Texas UIL Class 3A state meet. The previous year, he was first in the triple jump and second in the long jump.

This week, Preddie returns to that same Mike Myers track on an even bigger stage.

Now in his first year at Texas State University, he will be competing in the long jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which is being held about 65 miles south of his hometown and 30 miles north of his college campus.

Preddie expects his mother, girlfriend and numerous teammates and classmates to be in the stands when the competition begins at 8:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday night.

"I think I'm gonna have a lot of friends come down and support me, which is great," Preddie said. "It's gonna help a lot."

He added: "I'm very familiar with the track. Basically, I feel like I've got home track advantage."

Preddie is one of just three true freshmen from the U.S. -- along with San Jose State's Ajamu Reed and USC's JC Stevenson -- who qualified for the men's long jump at the NCAAs. Two other unique freshmen will also be in the 24-man field. Kentucky's Jordan Turner, who hails from Jamaica, and New Mexico's Lokesh Sathyanathan, a 23-year-old from India, are among those entered. 

Preddie is also the only man from Texas State competing at the NCAA meet; the Bobcats have two women who qualified: senior Sedrickia Wynn in the 100m hurdles and freshman Elisabet Rut Runarsdottir in the hammer throw.

Preddie's inclusion will be significant, though. The Texas State men's team has not scored a point at an NCAA outdoor meet since 2011.

During high school, Preddie received interest from some Power Five conference colleges, but Texas State was on him early and made him a priority. Kendall Gustafson, the jumps and multis coach, contacted Preddie soon after she accepted the job in September 2021. That was early in Preddie's senior year.

At that time, he had personal-bests of 23-0.75 in the long jump and 48-0.75 in the triple jump, marks that caught Gustafson's attention. That fall, Preddie took an official visit to Texas State, which is in San Marcos, about 95 miles south of Preddie's hometown.

The trip went so well that he committed to Texas State before he arrived back in his house.

"They made me feel at home like a family from the moment I got here," Preddie said "On my visit, I felt like I'd been here for some time already just because of how welcoming everyone was.... On my visit I made really close friends from the start of it. I felt like I had known them forever, like after just spending one or two days with them."

Photo Credit: Texas State Athletics

"We just have a little bit more work to continue to do in the triple jump, but I think it will absolutely catch up to where his long jump is. I see him being a really big dual threat in both of those events in the future."

    Said Gustafson: "When I met him and communicated with him, the more I wanted him, not just for his great athletic ability and I thought a really high ceiling that I could work well with, but also he's a great kid. He's easy to work with, he's a fun personality, and I think him and I get along really well."

    During his senior year, Preddie was U.S. No. 8 in the triple jump (50-2.75) and U.S. No. 35 in the long jump (24-5). But Gustafson thought he could get even better, especially because Preddie had played basketball in high school and didn't start training for track until March.

    Now that Preddie has devoted himself full-time to track, he's shown marked improvement.

    At the Sun Belt Conference indoor meet in February, he finished second in the long jump (24-4.5) and sixth in the triple jump (47-3.5). The next month, he broke a personal-best in the long jump (25-10) in winning the Charles Austin Classic in San Marcos.

    At the Sun Belt outdoor meet last month, Preddie won the long jump (24-1.75) and finished second in the triple jump (50-2.75). Two weeks later, he was ninth in the long jump (25-1.75) at the NCAA West preliminary round to advance to this week's NCAA meet. He fouled on all three triple jump attempts, so he didn't qualify in that event.

    Since arriving at college, Preddie says he has improved his speed and strength and learned the details of jumping under the tutelage of Gustafson, who was an All-American heptathlete at UCLA.

    Gustafson competed professionally for a few years after college and qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2021, but she had to pull out due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. After that injury, she retired and devoted herself full-time to coaching.

    "She's definitely helped me, putting her past collegian and post collegiate knowledge into our training," Preddie said. "A lot of coaches don't really know how the athlete feels all the time. They just write the (workouts) on the paper. But she's done this before and she's done great things. Her knowing what it feels like and being in the position, when to do what and at what point in the season, a lot of that comes from her being an athlete, so that really helps out."

    When Gustafson recruited Preddie, she knew he had the talent to compete at an elite NCAA Division 1 level, but he's even exceeded her expectations.

    She said Preddie has the ability to jump 26 feet or longer this week or at next month's USAT U20 Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where he will be among the favorites.

    "He's kind of gotten into that long jump rhythm and state of mind and is succeeding there," Gustafson said. "We just have a little bit more work to continue to do in the triple jump, but I think it will absolutely catch up to where his long jump is. I see him being a really big dual threat in both of those events in the future."