Forget soaring to new heights. At Fresno Pacific University, the men's track team is soaring to new lengths.

"It's awesome," said freshman triple jumper Josiah Ford. "Just every day at practice the level that they take it to is just a whole other level than I'm used to and it's just awesome."

Between them, the three sunbird triple jumpers have three career national titles and three top-seven jumps rankings nationally. Associate head coach JT Thiessen says this is rare.

"They give everything they've got.," said Coach Thiessen. "A lot of it is great athletes. I've had a blast coaching them though. It's been fun to make little adjustments and see it pay off."

Senior Ethan DeJongh of Visalia is the reigning indoor and outdoor national champion. His personal best of 52 feet-plus broke the school record."

"I'm going to do my best to be me and to just go out there and to just show the abilities that god has blessed me with."

2010 outdoor national champion Gene Vollmer is nipping at DeJongh's heels, ranked second in the country. Vollmer will represent Fiji at the London Olympics this summer, and credits the daily competition with his roommate for driving him to reach his full potential.

"It pushes me to keep going," said Vollmer. "He still has the school record. I took second last year. I can't complain. He was the better man that day. I'm just motivated this year. I can't wait."

And then there's the freshman from Madera Ranchos, or as the two upperclassmen see Ford: the fresh meat. Ranked seventh in the country, he has already improved by five feet, with a fun-natured approach appreciated by his ultra-competitive teammates.

"I think it's just been an awesome blessing to be able to work with them because they're awesome competitors and also just great role models on and off the track," said Ford.

And it's this type of camaraderie that has given the sunbirds three triple jumpers with the ability to win conference, and even national, championships.

"It's fun going to meets and having coaches comment on it," said Coach Thiessen. "It's a blast. And the guys handle it really well."

DeJongh and Vollmer especially, no more proof need than the epic secret handshake they'll want to bust out one more time at this year's national championships.

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fresno pacific university sunbirds, fresno, fresno county, sports, david bataller
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