Clarke cool under pressure (Track)

May 23, 2011

Jordan Clark

Big meets inspire Jordan Clarke of Anchorage. He is motivated to do big things and usually does.

The Pac-10 Championships were no different.

No matter the pressure to win, the All-American out of Arizona State University responded with a Herculean effort in taking the shot put title with each of his six throws being good enough to win.

“I’ve always done better at big meets with more pressure,” he told me. “I just love the competition.”

The 20-year-old sophomore, of Bartlett High fame, uncorked a season-best heave of 62 feet, 6 inches to collect his first Pac-10 championship last weekend in Tucson, Ariz.

His victory pushed ASU’s winning streak to three, with former teammate Ryan Whiting earning gold the previous two years.

“I was happy to keep the shot title in the ASU family,” he said. “It feels good. To keep it this year and the next two, it would be pretty exciting.”

The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder was second at the conference championships last year and went on to place fifth at Nationals.

Clarke is headed back to the big stage again this year, beginning with West Region qualifying Saturday and Sunday in Eugene, Ore. The top 12 throwers advance to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

He isn’t “too concerned” about qualifying because he needs only one good throw to get on the board.

Still, he hopes it comes earlier than later.

“When you’re in the early rounds and still trailing, it just puts a little bit more pressure on you to put a good throw together,” he said.

Then again, Clarke doesn’t wilt under pressure. Take last year’s NCAAs when he launched a PR throw on his sixth and final throw to earn All-America honors.

He must have ice water in his veins.

Well, that and super-human strength.

Clarke credited his high school coach, Kyle Lucey, for keeping him in the weight room back in the day. But he said nothing could have prepared him for life at ASU, where track and field is like football at Texas.

“It’s just a different ball game all together,” he said. “My strength levels have gone up significantly.”

Best of all, nobody is counting his calories like they do in other sports.

“Lots of eating to keep the weight on,” he said. “I don’t necessarily mind that part.”