It was all about NCAA perfection Wednesday afternoon at UMBC.
Retrievers high jumper Huguens Jean was celebrated for having attained that perfection last Saturday at Boston University, and the upset-happy women's basketball team was sent off to St. Francis (Pa.) in search of that goal tomorrow.
Jean has been riding on a cloud all week after clearing 7 feet, 1 1/2 inches to qualify for the NCAA indoor track and field championships this weekend at the University of Arkansas.
After all, he finally shattered the perplexing 6-11 barrier that had floored him 21 times.
Breaking that mark had become such a nightmare for Jean that "my parents (Faye and Hugues) told me I 'can come home now' after I made it."
The personal-best leap came in the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America championships and established a BU arena record.
"It was unreal," said Jean, a graduate of Howard High. "I felt I could do it all along, but it was just not happening. I had gone out (at 6-11) 21 times because of some little flaw. But this time, my technique was perfect. I came out of the lean just right, I visualized the jump, had so much speed and my mental part was all there."
Jean cleared 7-1 to end the mental anguish and then he made the magical 7-1 1/2 jump for the NCAA trip.
Now, he sees his dad as a good luck charm.
"He's looking for his ticket [plane trip to Fayetteville]," said Jean. "He'll be there."
Jean was introduced by athletic director Dr. Charles Brown at a pep rally Wednesday. His breakthrough was part of one of the most successful weekends ever at UMBC.
The women's basketball team reached the Northeast Conference championship game, the women's tennis team beat Cornell, the 12-6 upset by the men's lacrosse team over Stony Brook and the UMBC softball team's dramatic 6-5 victory over James Madison on senior Abbie Kahn's game-winning hit.
Final 12 bound
Cecil Community College is headed for the 12-team National Junior College Athletic Association Division II basketball championships in Danville, Ill., Wednesday through March 22.
Cecil (25-5), ranked No. 9 in the nation among Division II JuCo schools, will open the tournament against Lincoln (Ill.) Community College Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Cecil averages 91.6 points a game, with two Baltimore-area freshmen starters playing key roles in the team's success.
Former Cardinal Gibbons standout forward Dwight Dean averages 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds and forward Cory Hudson (Spalding) is averaging 5.5 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Cecil is the Region XX Division II champion, having handed JuCo Division I state power Allegany College its only two losses at home (68-2) over the past three seasons.
Harry a force
Although 6-3 junior Coppin center Leisel Harry was held to four points Wednesday in a season-ending 68-45 loss to Delaware State in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, she turned a lot of heads in a nine-game run before that final setback.
Harry led the Eagles to a 5-4 record, averaging 16.8 points and 10.9 rebounds. She posted seven double doubles, shooting 67 percent, and established career highs in scoring (22 points against league-leader Hampton) and rebounds (18 against Bethune-Cookman).
Ani seeks more honors
McDaniel senior Ifeanyi Ani will seek All-America status in the triple jump for a second straight year at the NCAA Division III indoor track and field championships this weekend at DePauw University.
Ani qualified for the NCAAs on the strength of a jump of 47 feet, 3/4 inch at Susquehanna University on Feb. 22.