Fired-up Jah-Nhai Perinchief has Brian Wellman in his corner for NCAA Championships
Jah-Nhai Perinchief says he is in good shape both physically and mentally on the eve of his debut at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
The University of Tennessee senior is competing in the triple jump final tonight at the University of Oregon’s historic and newly renovated Hayward Field, and is looking forward to the big occasion.
“Physically, I’m in great shape and the healthiest I’ve felt in a long time,” Perinchief told The Royal Gazette. “Everything is firing.
“I am ready to go out there and compete. I know I have put in the work so for the most part it’s just go out there, have some fun and execute my jumps and my distances are going to count.
“That’s the main thing. I don’t really look at distances or think about what to do. I just trust my coach’s training and have fun.”
The Southeastern Conference champion is one of 17 Tennessee athletes competing at the national championships.
Perinchief qualified for the meet with a wind-assisted best leap of 16.05 metres (52ft 8in) on the way to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA East Preliminary Championships in Jacksonville, Florida, last month.
Among his primary objectives in Oregon is to achieve the qualifying standard for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which stands at 17.14 metres.
“That’s always my main goal and I feel it would be a good accomplishment,” Perinchief added.
Accompanying the athlete at the meet is assistant coach and former world indoor champion Brian Wellman, who won two NCAA outdoor titles competing for the University of Arkansas.
“It’s always a plus having someone like Wellman, who has been at the top of triple jump when it was really prime,” Perinchief said.
“He’s a book of knowledge, so I just feed off of him; listen to what my main coach [Travis Geopfert] tells me and then I always ask Wellman little questions and stuff how to get better. Just take little advice from him and he helps me break down stuff in simple ways that I can understand.
“Coach Geopfert is really smart. He does all the numbers for me and helps me to be sharp and technically sound. Then if I have any other questions I also ask Wellman, so it’s a plus having two great minds.”
Wellman is delighted to take Perinchief under his wing.
“I have all this knowledge and information in this specific event so I love it from the standpoint that I am passing it on to another Bermudian who can take it and run with it basically,” Wellman said.
“I know more now than when I was competing and so my goal for him is for him to know as much as I know and take it as far as he can.”
Wellman added: “Jah-Nhai’s coach [Geopfert] asked me to look at him and I told him a while back a couple of basic things he needs to work to be able to maximise what he is doing because he is kind of young in the event. It’s still a couple of simple technical things I see that he can fix.”
As for Perinchief’s Olympic qualifying bid, the Commonwealth Games bronze medal-winner said: “He has the ability to jump the standard; hopefully, he will put it together when he needs to.”
Perinchief’s outdoor personal best stands at 16.89, which he achieved en route to winning the triple jump at the SEC Championships in Byron-College Station, Texas.
He was the first Tennessee athlete to win the title in 34 years.
Wellman, who represented Bermuda at four Olympic Games between 1988 and 2000, holds both the national indoor (17.62) and outdoor (17.72) triple jump records.
He was inducted in the Bermuda Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and is also a five-times Athlete of the Year.
Perinchief, who is in the second flight of 24-jumper field, is scheduled to begin competition at 9.20pm Bermuda time.