It hasn’t been easy for Aarik Wilson to acknowledge that jumping professionally was no longer in his future.
After missing the cut for the London Olympics two years ago, Wilson has returned to his home state and now helps coach and train at Functional Athletic Sports Training (FAST) NV in Reno.
“I am finally coming to grips with my competition career being over,” Wilson said. “I am having a blast at it and work with great people. I have been trying to spend as much time with my family as possible and fishing in the spare time. Life is great back here in Northern Nevada.”
Along with several other former Greenwave greats, Wilson will participate in Saturday’s Hometown Heroes event on Saturday at Churchill County High School.
“It was definitely an honor to be invited to the Hometown Heroes Run,” Wilson said. “It’s always fun to come to town and get to be involved in positive events. The group of people taking part is so impressive and I haven’t been able to see most of them in years, so I am super excited to get a chance to hang out and catch up. Plus, I always love getting to see the kids in town. They make my day every time.”
Wilson’s talents on the professional circuit stemmed from his days competing for the Greenwave.
From flying down the football field to throwing down SportsCenter-worthy dunks to jaw-dropping leaps in the jump pits, Wilson knew his future was bright.
Wilson won the state title in the triple jump in his senior season, setting the state record, after he scratched in the long jump to miss taking home two state titles. On the basketball court, Wilson helped Fallon make the playoffs and come one game away from playing in the state tournament in the old 4A. He was named the Co-Player of the Year as well.
Indiana called for Nevada’s best jumper after the 2001 season and Wilson competed for the Hoosiers’ track and field team, garnering various honors. Wilson won two NCAA championships and 10 Big Ten conference titles while accumulating 10 All-American honors. He also holds four Indiana school records.
His success continued after college as he became a four-time USA champ and then won the 2008 Olympic Trials in Oregon to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in the triple jump.
“I’ve been really focused on this especially since 2004 when I was really disappointed,” Wilson said after qualifying for the Olympics. “That’s all I’ve thought about for a while. Over the past two, three years, I’ve done a good job establishing myself. I don’t plan on going to the Olympics as a spectator. I’ve done too much work for that.”
Wilson qualified for the finals after placing third in the preliminaries and almost missed qualifying for the top six of the final flight.
“I was just trying to hold it together,” Wilson said at the time. “I was so nervous being in fifth place. I saw my coach sweating from a mile away. I was just trying to think of everything he told me and make sure I got to the pit. Make sure I was on the board and get to the pit. That worked out. God carried me.”
He won the trials with a leap of 57 feet, 2.25 inches, more than six inches ahead of Kenta Bell and Rafeeq Curry, who also qualified for the Summer Games.
A stress fracture injury, though, came back to haunt Wilson during the Olympics as he couldn’t qualify for the final cut.
Nevertheless, Wilson got better and stronger and made his final attempt of qualifying for the Olympics in 2012. Known as one of the best combination jumpers in American track and field history,
Wilson fell short in the trials and the chance to compete in the London Games.
Wilson, whose personal bests in the triple and long jumps were 57-8 and 26-10, respectively, was ranked in the top 10 in the world during every season he competed.
Now, Wilson uses his plethora of experience to help people achieve their goals at FAST NV with former Nevada Wolf Pack stars J.J. Milan (football) and Carlos Madrid (baseball).