Highland senior Floyd Whitaker soared a quarter of an inch short of 50 feet Thursday afternoon and won the national triple jump championship by two inches.
Whitaker jumped 49-11 3/4 on his second attempt at the Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
The top three jumpers all finished within four inches of each other.
Whitaker held off Solomon Washington of of Stony Point High School in Round Rock, Texas, who jumped 49-9 3/4 on his second attempt, and Aren Spencer of Christ Church, Barbados, who hit 49-7 3/4 on his first jump.
Washington followed up with jumps of 49-6 1/2 and 49-8 1/4 but couldn’t catch Whitaker, who backed up his 49-11 3/4 with a 49-10 on his third attempt. Spencer fouled four times but did have a second jump over 49 feet at 49-1. Anthony Woods of St. Xavier High in Louisville, Ky., was fourth at 49-1 1/2, making it four jumpers over 49 feet.
It was Whitaker’s first national title, although he did win the freshman triple jump at the 2018 New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.
Whitaker’s 49-11 3/4 is the second-best jump of his life. He won his first of two consecutive Meet of Champions titles in 2019 with a 50-2 1/2. He won this past M-of-C with a 49-7.
Whitaker jumped 48-2 1/2 into a moderate wind (0.2) on his first attempt before his winning 49-11 3/4. He finished the trials with a 49-10 before going 48-11 3/4, 47-6 1/4 and 48-10 1/4 in the finals.
He averaged 48-10 1/2 on his six legal jumps.
Whitaker is the first boy from Camden County to win a national outdoor title since Anthony Miles won the long jump in 2003, and he’s the first South Jersey boy to win a field event at nationals since Braheme Days Jr. of Bridgeton won the shot and James Plummer of Egg Harbor Township won the discus in 2013.