Long Jumper Excels at National Level
Jordan Downs, originally from Merrillville, Ind., transferred to Bethel College from Vincennes University two years ago, and has been making headlines for the Pilots ever since.
He holds the Bethel record for indoor and outdoor long jump, six* individual national championships in long jump and pole vault (it’s not typical for an athlete to compete in both events), is a 10-time All-American and has been designated a Player of the Week 16 times. In February, he competed at the USATF Indoor Championships, the ultimate USA Track & Field national event of the indoor season, and beat out 15 collegiate, post-collegiate and professional athletes to win the long jump event with a mark of 7.73 m. (his personal record is 7.96 m.).
You might think all of this success could go to an athlete’s head, but Downs remains down-to-earth.
“Anything I do, I don’t do for myself – it’s for my track team, my parents, especially God … and [to] represent where I come from,” he says.
Downs trains under Bethel coach Danny Wilkerson, who has coached elite athletes and Olympians. Most of his training involves sprinting, jumping, endurance and technique, to help with muscle memory and gain strength.
“When you win any type of national championships, you take it in [for] one day, but you always want to do better,” Downs says. “You put 110 percent out there on the track and in practice, and know the team’s behind you.”
Downs has appreciated the family atmosphere of Bethel’s Track & Field team, noting that the coaches are quick to recognize all athletes, not just the ones who are most successful.
“I like how Coach [Tony] Natali does team meetings. He recognizes everybody for what they do. Track represents Bethel and [we try] our best to bring home titles, but that’s not where our identity comes from,” Downs explains, adding that ultimately, their identity comes from Christ.
As a Sports Studies major, Downs has spent a fair amount of time in the training room, and plans to pursue a career in athletic training or massage therapy at the collegiate level. But first, he has his sights set on the outdoor Track & Field season, and looks to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in China.
“Any ability you have … that’s from God! You should go out there and use that,” he says. “I try to go out there and encourage younger students to chase after [their goals] and improve.”
*As of March 15, 2019
Career Accomplishments as a Pilot
Individual National Championships
2019 NCCAA Indoor Long Jump
2019 NCCAA Indoor Pole Vault
2019 NAIA Indoor Long Jump
2018 NAIA Indoor Long Jump
2018 NCCAA Indoor Long Jump
2018 NCCAA Outdoor Long Jump
4x NAIA All-American
6x NCCAA All-American
All-Crossroads League Awards
9x Crossroads League
Player of the Week Awards
3x NAIA National Player
of the Week
4x NCCAA National Student-Athlete of the Week
9x Crossroads League Athlete
of the Week
2019 NAIA Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year Award
USTFCCCA 2019 NAIA National Field Athlete of the Year
Feb. 2019 USATF Indiana Athlete of the Month