USF long jumper eying program record

When Erik Jenkins was named the USF Track and Field coach, he had two missions: win and corner the Tampa recruiting scene.

"This area code of 813, there's a lot of talent here," Jenkins explained. "We've got to find the talent that fits our model here at the University of South Florida."

Few represent that more than Alonso High alum, Shaniya Benjamin.

"It makes me extremely proud to know that I'm representing Tampa very well," Benjamin said. "To keep pursuing, keep being dedicated, and continuing to do me, and do better."

Since trading in the Alonso navy and gold for the USF green and gold, Benjamin has helped the Bulls set program records in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. The freshman is also within a foot of breaking the program's record in the outdoor long jump.

"I just like jumping," Benjamin shared. "Jumping is fun to me."

Jumping is so much fun to Benjamin that setting the record is very much a priority for her.

"I really want to close that gap," Benjamin said. "(I either) want to close the gap, or completely break the record by the time I'm done with my freshman year."

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The current record of 21.4 belongs to Kerine Black. Most athletes claim to not care about setting records, saying something cliché about wanting to be the best they can be. Shaniya on the other hand embraces setting records.

"Seeing my personal best, and seeing me continue to build upon that, jump further or run faster, I really like seeing me do that."

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