Plethora of talent dazzles Geopfert's scouting eyes
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Travis Geopfert sits attentively in the grandstand, his eyes glued on the happenings inside the National Stadium as action unfolded at the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships yesterday.
From the long jump pit to the discus ring, his attention never seems to wane as he trains his eyes on every detail. He knows what he is looking for and he knows he can find it here.
Geopfert, the assistant track and field coach at the University of Arkansas, is well aware of the immense talent on offer at the highly respected meet, having worked with two of its proud alums, former Kingston College jumpers Alain Bailey and Tariq Bachelor at the Arizona-based institution.
Bailey recently won the NCAA indoor title with an impressive 8.17m, while Batchelor claimed a third-place finish at the same meet with a personal best leap of 8.09m.
For Geopfert, his sole mission is to secure a few other top athletes for his school's respected athletics programme, but with so much to choose from, he doesn't know where to start.
"I've been here since day one and I've everything so far," said Geopfert. "The talent here is absolutely amazing. Everywhere you look, in all the different events, there is tremendous talent. The sprinters are obviously very exciting and the jumpers are doing very well ,but I can also see development in the other areas. The throws are getting better, the distant runners are very impressive, pole vaulting is there as well; you can see that it's all around track and field now and I'm just very excited to be here."
This is Geopfert's first time in the island, after he was encouraged to get a firsthand 'Champs' experience by the two Jamaicans on his team back home.
"Bailey and Batchelor have been telling me to come here and that I have never seen anything like this; and they are so right. I am really excited about tomorrow (today) when the crowd is really into it and stuff," Geopfert stated. "What is really great about this track meet is that the whole country supports it, you don't find many meets like this in the world and it's something that the whole nation should be proud of."
Looking for jumpers
As it relates to his particular interests, the coach, who also acts as a scout for the university, shared that he is looking at jumpers first of all, but will be looking at other areas as well.
"I'm looking at some jumpers but there are a couple of guys that I already have my eyes on who we are certainly looking forward to recruiting and there are certainly a number of sprinters who interest us as well," Geopfert said.
"What's terrific about Jamaican athletes is that they have experienced an atmosphere like this, so they know how to rise to the occasion in a big meet situation," Geopfert added. "Bailey and Batchelor have proven to be terrific athletes for us and if there is any more like those two guys around, we would really like to have them."