At 30, Roderick Townsend is a world-record holder. At 22, Dallas Wise is a USC senior heading that way.
Both met again Thursday at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, where the Tokyo Paralympic teammates faced off again in the high jump at the U.S. National Para Track & Field Championships.
Besides having eight years on his Tokyo Games silver medalist friend Wise, Tokyo champ Townsend at 6-foot-7 towers over the 6-2 Trojan.
- Watch: Livestream of events at Chula Vista training center
- See: Results for U.S. Para Track & Field National Championships
On this day — Day 1 of the three-day meet acting as a selection event for the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris this July — Phoenix resident Townsend showed age prevails.
He cleared 2.09 meters (6-10 1/4) on his first try but missed three shots at a world record 2.16 (7-1). Wise, the American record-holder in his category with a best of 2.10 (6-10 3/4), made 2.05 (6-8 3/4) on his third and last try.
“I do have the world record at 2.15 (tied at April’s Mt. SAC Relays), but I gotta do everything I can” to stay on top, Townsend said. “These young guys have so much potential. It’s nice to be able to have [them] around — so on any given day anybody can jump high.”
Wise and Townsend compete in the T47 and T46 classes, respectively, but have similar disabilities. A native of South Carolina, Wise has Erb’s palsy, a condition that causes arm weakness and loss of motion. Townsend was born with permanent nerve damage to his right arm and shoulder.
Still tinkering with his technique, Townsend called Thursday one of his best days despite using a short approach run.
“It’s been a really, really, really tough training cycle,” he said. “I ran the 400-meter hurdles a couple weeks ago. … I was doing my warmups, and the short-approach jumps felt better.”
Former decathlete Townsend said he took an Uber to the track, and both he and Wise were “dealing with traffic issues” before their 5 p.m. event, “doing what we could with the circumstances.”
Still, he found the meet “really nice and relaxing, for sure.” And why not? “It was 105 today” in Phoenix, he said.
Wise, who took two second-places at last weekend’s Pac-12 championships at Mt. San Antonio College, is a triple threat at the first para nationals ever held in Chula Vista.
“Sometimes I do go a little bit overboard, and I do all three events,” including the long jump and triple jump, he said. “Once I learn how to slow [my high jump run-up] down, control my speed, I think I’ll be … well.”
Unofficially, two American records were set Thursday in the shot put ring of the former Olympic Training Center, where 150 are entered in events including sprints, throws and wheelchair races at various distances.
Legally blind Devin Huhta, 38, of Battle Mountain, Nevada, improved his listed American record of 14.27 (46-9 3/4 in 2021) by putting the 16-pound shot 14.41 meters (47-3½). Tre Fess, 29, threw the shot 8.98 (29-5½) for an apparent American record in the F42 category (movement moderately affected in one leg) where no best is currently listed.
Fess also is entered in the javelin.
And Paralympians Wise and Townsend will meet again at 3 p.m. Friday in the long jump — along with Isaac Jean-Paul, a Tokyo bronze medalist (and San Diego State University coach) with the visual impairment juvenile retinoschisis.
The meet resumes at 8:30 a.m. Friday and has a break from noon to 3 p.m., when events run to 6 p.m. On Saturday, events start at 8:45 a.m. with a break from noon to 3 p.m. and conclude later that afternoon.