The first step is crucial for O’Brien Wasome

Drew King

O’Brien Wasome has a specific routine before he attempts a long or triple jump. He starts by clapping his hands, encouraging the crowd—and his competitors—to join in. Then, after leaning back a time or two, he makes a big skip before sprinting down the the runway.

“Jumping is a rhythm and timing event,” assistant coach Seth Henson said. “When you see athletes do the rock back or you see people walk or skip in, they’re doing whatever they feel like puts them in the best position to maximize that first step because that first step is extremely important.”

Now, Wasome will be bringing his routine to Eugene, Oregon, as the lone Longhorn jumper at nationals.

By his freshman year of high school in Jamaica, Wasome was not new to the sport of track and field. However, he didn’t realize at the time just how good he was.

“[I’ve been doing this] since I was a baby,” Wasome said. “I’ve been doing track and field for a very long time. At my high school championship, I was doing quite a few events and each event I was just as good as everybody else. I was like ‘Alright, I was made to do something here,’ I just needed to figure out what it was.”

Wasome was a versatile track and field athlete, but quickly learned his specialty came in jumping. Head coach Mario Sategna took notice of Wasome’s athletic ability shortly thereafter, and began recruiting him to come to Austin.

“O’Brien is an incredible competitor and he’s a great jumper, no matter what event,” Henson said. “Long jump, triple jump, I’ve seen this young man jump 2.10 meters in the high jump just playing around.”

Choosing to attend Texas was a major decision for Wasome. It meant choosing to leave his native home of Jamaica, nearly 1500 miles Austin. However, Wasome found some familiarity while making his visit to campus.

“[It was] probably the weather, probably the people around me,” Wasome said. “I felt the most comfortable and relaxed here, so I chose here.”

Despite the cultural adjustment, the transition from Jamaica to Texas wasn’t difficult. Wasome’s energy and enthusiasm quickly fit in well with the rest of the team.

“O’Brien is very funny, he’s very jovial, always playing around,” freshman and fellow Jamaican Rushelle Burton said. “He knows how to get people hyped for their events. He’s really good, he’s got a really good personality.”

Wasome has been full of surprises throughout both the indoor and outdoor campaigns. During the indoor season, he climbed his way up the triple jump rankings and earned a spot in the NCAA Championships as the fifth-best jumper in the nation. Wasome leaped for a career-best 16.49 meters and took third place at the meet.

“He’s very competitive,” Burton said. “He knows when to get stuff done. He knows what he needs to do. He’s always focused when he’s jumping.”

Wasome entered the preliminaries on May 25 as the No. 19 long jumper and the No. 5 triple jumper in the NCAA. In both events, the top-12 move on to nationals. But things didn’t go quite as planned when Wasome came up short in the triple jump, taking 16th place. He did take ninth in the long jump, however, punching his ticket to Eugene.

“It’s been a good season for me overall,” Wasome said. “I’m still going to nationals in the long (jump). I didn’t expect it, it shows that I’m still in form in the long jump, so it’s a good season for me so far.”

Wasome will next take flight on June 7 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. And whether it be in Jamaica, Austin or Eugene, Wasome will make sure to bring his routine with him once again.