LSU’s Harrison soars past competition to capture Corbett Award as state’s top male amateur athlete

One of the top jumpers in the world, LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison has been selected as the winner of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s James J. Corbett Award as the top male amateur athlete in the state of Louisiana.

The Corbett Awards (male and female) have been selected since 1967 by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Harrison will become the 10th Olympian when he competes in Tokyo later this month – Aleia Hobbs, the 2018 Corbett Award winner, will be the ninth Corbett Award Olympian as she has been selected for Team USA to compete in the 400 relay.

“This season was my year. I knew that coming in and I made sure to make the most of it,” Harrison said. “To win this award and be considered the top male amateur athlete in the state means the a lot to me. I’m aware of the previous winners and what they’ve gone on to accomplish.

“LSU has meant the most to me. Memories made that I’ll never forget. I’m thankful for the people I’ve been surrounded with throughout my time here because they have made me better on and off the track. Forever LSU.”

Harrison becomes the fourth LSU track and field athlete to win this award dating back to 2018. Mondo Duplantis (2018), Aleia Hobbs (2018), and Tonea Marshall (2020) were LSU track and field’s previous winners. Other LSU track and field alums to win the award were Kimberlyn Duncan (2013 & 2011), Xavier Carter (2006), Peta-Gaye Dowdie (2000), and Esther Jones (1990).

The Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories; it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year’s Hall of Fame class. Overall, 23 individuals and two teams will be honored for their 2020-21 achievements at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Awards Banquet on July 24.

With a nickname like “Mr. Jumps” for a collegiate athlete may come off as a bit presumptuous considering the number of extraordinary track and field jumpers in history. However, for Harrison, the nickname is justified, especially after a sensational performance at the United States Track & Field Olympic Trials in late June.

Harrison, a native of Huntsville, Ala., won both the high jump and the long jump at the Trials to become the first American to qualify for the Olympics in those two events since Jim Thorpe in 1912. He is considered a potential medalist in both events in Tokyo – he’s ranked No. 2 in the world in both events. Track and field events at the Olympics begin on July 30.

“I’m going there with the goal of winning both events,” Harrison said. “I don’t like to lose.”

At the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships, he became the first individual in NCAA history to win both the long jump and high jump championships. He matched that accomplishment at this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships and then did it again in mid-June at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

“It’s set in a little bit,” Harrison said to The Advocate prior to the Olympic Trials. “After the indoor meet, I heard the marks were the best for a long jump-high jump double to ever do that. That’s when it really started to come in like, ‘OK, you’re setting yourself up to do something that hasn’t been done before.’ ”

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Harrison hasn’t lost a high jump competition since March 30, 2019 – that includes 15 straight competitions in the high jump that he hasn’t been beaten. He’s the first male high jumper since 1960 to win the NCAA outdoor title and the U.S. Olympic Trials title in the same year.

In the long jump, Harrison’s Olympic Trials’ winning leap of 27-9.50 matched the LSU school-record that was set by 2004 Olympic silver medalist John Moffitt.

This year’s National Men’s Field Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA, Harrison’s six NCAA titles rank No. 3 on the LSU all-time list. His success at this year’s outdoor championships was a key to LSU winning the NCAA outdoor championship in dominate fashion with 84 points. Oregon was second with 53 points. The biomedical engineering major is considered a top contender for the Bowerman Award – the honor presented to the top track and field athlete in the nation in December.

“JuVaughn has done it all for us,” LSU track coach Dennis Shaver. “It’s been a pleasure to watch him accomplish everything he has this year. He’s a true competitor and that shows every day. He hates to lose. He’s matured a lot since he’s arrived on our campus. He’s committed to the process and he’s a freakishly talented athlete. The things he’s accomplished this year are second to none. We’re proud of him and can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next.”

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