Jags' Collins earns All-America honors at national track meet

EUGENE, Ore. — Just over a year after a season-ending injury kept Sean Collins from competing beyond the conference championship, the University of South Alabama track and field sophomore earned first-team All-American honors at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field Wednesday evening.

"We are very proud of Sean," head track and field coach Paul Brueske said. "He has overcome a lot of adversity just to get back to the NCAA Championships. For him to finish first-team All-American after everything he has been through is a testament to his ability and character. He and his coach Aaron James did a fantastic job. We are looking forward to more successes from him in the future."

The sophomore placed eighth in a field of 24 athletes from across the country after clearing a height of 5.45m on his second attempt, a season-best mark, to achieve his All-American accolades in his debut of the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Last season, a dislocated ankle kept Collins from competing in postseason as a freshman, but the Mobile, Ala., native was happy with his Outdoor NCAA Championship debut and was humbled to represent South Alabama and his hometown of Mobile.

"It was great; I had a great season," Collins said. "The coaching staff and teammates were really supportive of me coming back; I couldn't have done it without them. Our athletic trainers also really helped get me back to full speed before the season started. I'm just glad I was able to represent the track team at South Alabama. We definitely have some competitors (on our team) that should have been here and I jumped for them. It's a great honor."

Collins said that support from the South Alabama community and his hometown have been instrumental since he started competing as a Jaguar.

"I've grown up in Mobile, I know the locals and they know me," Collins said. "They have followed me my entire high school and collegiate career. I know family, friends and everyone in Mobile have all been so supportive, not to mention the South Alabama community. I'm so proud I get to come home as a first-team All-American."

Matthew Ludwig, a sophomore from Akron, edged out Adrian Valles, a junior from Cincinnati, clearing 5.60m to earn the pole vault title. Valles came in second, clearing 5.55m on the first attempt.