For the first time since 2012, men’s track and field boasts having an Ohio Valley Conference Men’s Freshman of the Year athlete on their team. Men’s high and long jumper Ethan Poston was given the title just before he took home gold at the OVC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
According to Assistant Coach Doug McDannald, coaches from each school in the OVC nominate one freshman athlete for the award before the OVC Indoor Championships take place. They then vote on the nominees from the other schools.
McDannald said because Poston was ranked No. 1 in the high jump going into the championships, an unusual feat for a freshman, the decision to nominate him was easy.
“None of the other freshmen on our squad were ranked first going into the championships for their respective events, so, for us, it was a pretty cut-and-dry decision,” McDannald said.
Prior to SIUE, Poston attended Metamora Township High School. During his high school career, his family hired a private coach to help him with his jumps in addition to his high school coach.
“[The private coach] would work on the lower things but still not everything we do here, so both the coaches in my high school combined made me a good high jumper but not the best that I can be,” Poston said.
Poston said he learned a few weeks before coming to SIUE his recruiter, former assistant coach Joey Pacione, would not be returning. This meant Poston would be starting his college track and field career without a specialized coach.
Before McDannald started at SIUE in October, Head Coach Scott Block ran practices. Upperclassmen jumpers, like senior long and triple jumper Nichyria Byrd, helped Poston with his jumping approach.
“As far as everything goes, I feel like we all kind of helped Ethan out,” Byrd said. “He was coachable. He believed in us being able to help him as a freshman. Getting his approach down for high jump was basically the only thing we could work on because I didn’t really know how to tell him how to get over the bar.”
In addition to this struggle, McDannald said after he arrived at SIUE, the team also faced the challenge of not having scheduled practices over winter break.
“With the extended winter break, we definitely had some work to do once we got back from winter break,” McDannald said. “Ethan in particular is always up for the challenge; he shows up to practice every day ready to do whatever he needs to do to be prepared. He’s not a complainer and is just a hard-working kid.”
After taking first in high jump at the John Craft Invite, the Illini Invitational and the Marshall Invitational, Poston once again placed first at the OVC Indoor Championships with a leap of 6 feet, 11 inches against Eastern Kentucky’s Yoshua Reed.
Poston said he hopes to accomplish his long-term goal of jumping seven feet during the upcoming outdoor season — a goal that’s been with him since he started the sport in sixth grade.
More details on the team’s championship performances can be found at The Alestle’s website.