Gabriel Oladipo Jr., a Hightower High School graduate and rising sophomore at Texas A&M University, finished in 14th place at the World Juniors Track and Field Championships in Finland last weekend.
Oladipo’s best throw in the qualifying round was 56.53 meters which was 0.18 meters short of the 12th place qualifier. The top 12 qualifiers advanced to the finals.
Oladipo won the United States Junior Track and Field discus competition two weeks ago in Bloomington, Ind., to qualify to represent the United States at the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Finland.
In the U.S. Junior discus competition, Oladipo won with a throw of 61.15 meters, or 200 feet, 7 inches, a new personal record.
“The U.S. Juniors’ competition really meant a lot to me. I was blessed to win the discus competition two years in a row,” Oladipo said.
“I feel great going into the world championships. It would be great to win a medal,” Oladipo said.
Oladipo also finished seventh in the shot put with a personal record of 18.67 meters. Oladipo’s long-time friend and competitor, Adrian Piperi of The Woodlands and the University of Texas, won the shot put competition and joined him in Finland.
“Piperi was the first person to ever beat me, and I was the first person to ever beat him,” Oladipo said.
Like many college freshman, Oladipo had to adjust to college life.
“It was tough adjusting to the classes and the practices. A&M was the first time I really worked out in the weight room. But what I learned this year is that I have to balance weight workouts, throwing workouts, meets, and studying. All of those take a toll on your body and mind,” Oladipo said. “Everything was a big change, but overall I felt it was great. I have great teammates and my parents supported me. My throwing coach, Juan de la Garza, did a great job in helping me adjust to my first year.”
At the Southeastern Conference championship, Oladipo finished 13th in the shot put with a put of 17.44 meters, and 19th in the discuss with a throw of 51.70 meters.
“Even though I finished in 13th place, I did set a personal record in the shot put at 17.44 meters. The SEC is just loaded with athletes,” Oladipo said. “I didn’t throw the discus well. The conference meet comes at a bad time as you have practiced and competed in a full season, plus finals are coming up. I was mentally and physically fatigued at that time.”
Oladipo is looking forward to his second year at Texas A&M.
“Going into next year, I have a lot of experience. I feel like I came up a little short my freshman year. But now I will know what to expect and not make the same mistakes again,” Oladipo said. “I am looking forward to a great season.”