Nick McAdam, Assistant Sports Editor
Ka’Sean Watlington is entering his junior year with the Utica College men’s track and field team.
Last year, Watlington was an NCAA qualifier in jumps. At this year’s Pioneer Winter Classic, Watlington’s distance in the triple jump landed him a top 10 ranking in the event.
The recent Empire 8 Athlete of the Week had quite the journey getting to the spot he is in now, though. Several off-field occurrences kept him away from the sport he cares so much about.
“Freshman year, I played basketball so when I got to track, I wasn’t as good as the other jumpers,” he said. “I made the decision to stick to track because I felt I had a lot of potential.
Sophomore year, I started hot, but then I had shin splints most of indoor [track season].
“Outdoor came around and my grandpa got sick; I found out while I was at Hamilton for a meet. Since then, I have been really dedicated to track, and I started breaking records, and all of a sudden I made it to nationals.”
Watlington does not want any of his work over the past few years to go to waste. Before every triple jump, he has a set routine already in his mind of how to prepare.
“I prepare by putting my headphones in and thinking about not being All-American last season and how bad it felt,” he said. “Also, I can’t let all the work I’ve put in go to waste.
“To be successful, I work as hard as I can. I don’t only do it for me, but I also do it for my fellow jumpers. They push me and want nothing but success for me. Being an All-American is all I want to do.”
What Watlington values the most is displayed and echoed by his jumping coach, William Razzano, who spoke of working with his jumper as a “privilege.”
“He comes to practice every day looking to improve and continue to get better as an athlete,” Razzano said. “He is a leader on the track, and his success pushes his teammates and is a driving force behind our success. He is one of the most gifted athletes I have had the opportunity to work with, and he is continuing to improve every day.
“Ka’Sean has a passion for track and field, he loves to compete and thrives in big moments. We know we can count on him to step up whenever we need it, whether it be jumping, sprinting or as a member of a relay team.”
It is not just the success on the field for Watlington that stands out for Razzano.
Watlington has plenty of accolades to show for in his sport, but he brings just as much effort into the classroom as well. The business economics major finished on the Dean’s List last spring while showing “amazing leadership skills.”
Watlington still has another year left with the Pioneers’ track team. Razzano noted that Watlington has already done plenty but will always strive for more.
“He was brought in as a highly touted recruit and someone we knew would be a consistent national qualifier for our program,” Razzano said. “He has been one of the top Long and Triple Jumpers in the E8 since his freshman year. He won the Empire 8 outdoor conference title last year, finished 3rd indoor, finished 3rd outdoor his freshmen year and finished 2nd indoor as a freshman.
“He holds the Utica College records in the outdoor triple jump, the outdoor long jump, and was a member of the school record 4x200m relay team. He is also an extremely talented sprinter for us both indoors and outdoors.”