Feb 272005
Authors: Amanda Havekost

Jacob Benson's Stats

* Eight-time Mountain West All-Conference selection after heearned three awards in both the high jump and long jump and two in the triple jump

* He owns the school record in the indoor triple jump at 51-2 1/4

* The first jumper in CSU history to win an outdoor conference title, winning the high jump at 6-9 1/2 in 2003

* Won the 2004 indoor title with a repeat jump of 6-9 1/2.

COLORADO SPRINGS –Senior jumper Jacob Benson has made a unique mark on CSU track and field since 2002.

Benson won the 2004 MWC indoor title with a repeat jump of 6-9 1/2 and has been an MWC All-Conference selection eight times.

His contributions during competition raise some eyebrows, but the stories behind his performance make Benson unforgettable.

At the Mountain West Conference Championships this weekend, Benson strained a groin muscle during semifinals and pushed through finals the next day to take third place in the conference.

No one could tell from watching him that Benson was injured. Smiles, cheers, encouragement and nervous pacing for his teammates were all Benson was giving away.

Injuries have plagued Benson's career here at CSU, but hamstring pulls and tendonitis haven't kept him down.

"I've struggled a little bit with injuries that have hindered me," Benson said. "I improved a lot in all my events, met all my goals and even upped my goals."

Whenever a teammate was this weekend about to jump, Benson could be found close by – cheering, encouraging and rooting for him.

Benson said the top traits he has earned from competition, practice and training are not physical.

"Encouragement, being able to have those relationships and learning how they can work for a person's performance are the biggest skills I've gained," Benson said.

Benson remembers his first meet like it was yesterday, and has since seen his confidence grow tenfold.

"I remember walking out there and running off of a lot of encouragement from the coaches," Benson said.

When Benson first came to the CSU track program, he was the only triple-jumper. Now there are seven players to practice with and push Benson to his full potential.

Benson is quick to mention the help he has received from others in achieving his goals, and head coach Del Hessel tops the list.

"He's such an encouragement," Benson said.

Impressions and opinions of Benson can be found from his teammates. The first two words nationally ranked senior thrower Loree Smith said when Benson's name was mentioned were "amazing guy."

"He's down to earth, funny, humble and all his teammates look up to him," Smith said. "When it comes to competition, he's a gamer."

Benson said he looked up to Smith as a mentor his freshmen year.

"Smith has a great work ethic and it was fun learning from her," Benson said.

As a true freshman Benson was named all-conference in the indoor triple-jump.

Benson is now a role model for freshman jumpers Clayton Eilert and Jarelle Johnson. He enjoys watching them improve.

"It's fun to coach now and help them out," Benson said. "I give the younger guys tips and push them in the weight room."

Benson's encouragement is felt from teammates in a variety of events. Junior middle distance runner Brett Melin said the encouragement provides a great team atmosphere.

"It motivates and pushes everyone over their limit," Melin said, "Which is what we need."

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