Benedict College redshirt sophomore Shemar Miller became the college’s first-ever NCAA National Champion, when he won the men’s triple jump event at the 2021 NCAA D2 Outdoor Track & Field Championship on Saturday at Grand Valley Track & Field Stadium in Allendale, Michigan this weekend.
After fouling on his first attempt, Miller jumped a season-best 15.79 meters (51 feet, 9 ¾ inches) on his second attempt. That mark held up to win the event, beating silver medalist Oghenefejiro Onakpoma from Southern Connecticut State, who recorded a jump of 15.68 on his first attempt. Dakota Abbott of UC-Colorado Springs, who entered the event as the top seed, finished third, marking a jump of 15.63 meters on his final attempt.
“I’m really overwhelmed,” Miller said from Michigan, shortly after the awards ceremony. “I’m grateful for the experience and to be called a national champion and to be the first from Benedict is really a great feeling.”
After setting the top distance early, Miller said it was uneasy to watch the other competitors chase his mark for the rest of the time. Miller fouled on his third and fourth attempts, then recorded marks of 15.34 meters and 15.65 meters on his fifth and sixth attempts.
“I was very nervous. Some people probably still had it in the tank. It just worked out in my favor,” Miller said.
Coach Frank Hyland said the strategy going into the event was to try and have his best jump on his first two attempts, and then make the other competitors chase his mark. And that’s exactly what happened. Hyland said Miller’s first jump was even better, but he fouled by a very tiny margin.
“I knew he had it in him,” Hyland said. “I knew he was going to be a national champion, we just had to hope the weather held up, and we finally got some sun today. It was amazing. I almost shed a tear, because it was my first. He’s an over achiever right now, because he did something a lot of people probably thought he couldn’t do. I’m really excited right now.”
About Benedict College
Founded in 1870 by a woman, Bathsheba A. Benedict, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution, offering 25 competitive baccalaureate degree programs. The Midlands HBCU welcomes students from all 46 counties in South Carolina, 30 states across America, and 26 countries around the world.
Benedict offers several high-demand fields of study in STEM, Cyber Security, Mass Communication, Sport Management, Business Administration, Engineering, Computer Science, Biology, and Education. The College also has a diverse faculty and importantly, 80 percent of courses are taught by full-time faculty.
There are over 18,000 proud Benedict Tigers throughout the nation. Benedict College has been a community leader for over 150-years and is a significant contributor to South Carolina and the region. Contributing $130 million and 1,218 jobs in total local and annual economic impact, a Benedict graduate working full-time throughout his or her working life can expect to earn $1.1 million in additional income because of their Benedict College degree.
The College made front-page news in the spring of 2018 when it became the first South Carolina college to lower its tuition by 26 percent. Cutting tuition drew praise from the Commission on Higher Education, South Carolina’s education oversight body. The commissioner noted that the move Benedict College made should be applauded because it offers families affordability and students greater access to higher education.
Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications. For example, Benedict College was ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for creating social mobility and producing cutting-edge scholarship and research. In 2019, Benedict College received the 2019 ACE/ Fidelity Investments Awards for Institutional Transformation and was named the HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest.
Benedict College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Five of the College’s degree programs hold national accreditation: The School of Education, Social Work Program, Environmental Health Science Program, Studio Art Program, and the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Entrepreneurship.