Will Claye bided his time, not well, mind you, but he knew it was part of the process.

The Mountain Pointe graduate and NCAA All-American had to sit out last track season after transferring from Oklahoma to Florida.

"I had to learn to be patient," he said. "I am watching people out there working, getting better and I couldn't do anything. It was very frustrating. I have competed in track all my life and then just like that I was just watching everyone else."

The opposition may have gained on Claye during his down time in the triple jump, but not enough.

Claye set the NCAA meet record in the men's triple jump with a mark of 56-feet, 10-inches - breaking the mark of 56-9.50 set by Keith Connor of SMU.

But he wasn't finished as the junior totaled 18 points on the weekend after finishing as the NCAA runner-up in the men's long jump, with a leap of 26-04.5, to help the Gators win the team title.

"I think I surprised some people in the long jump," said Claye, who was seeded eighth. "I hit my mark and I got off a great jump. It felt really good to help us win the team championship."

While his performance in the long jump was impressive, his record-breaking effort in the triple jump was the talk of the meet. It wasn't because he was an unknown - Claye won the national title in the outdoor season when he was still with Oklahoma. It was the fact that he was able to beat a record that stood since 1981.

"I had trouble sleeping that night," Claye said. "I knew I had the day to get ready (after the long jump the night before) and when I went out there and started to warm up it was like any other meet. I knew it was far after I landed in the sand.

"After I found out, I took off running and just went crazy."

Claye, who won two Arizona state titles with the Pride, is now a five-time All-American and has his eyes set on the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The trials are in Eugene, Ore., and Claye hopes to be ready to go.

"I have to get through the (outdoor season) healthy, take some time off, let the body heal and just continue to get better," he said. "After (that) I will hit it real hard and smart, and then I will put it in God's hands."

It's been a thought in the back of his mind ever since leaving Ahwatukee Foothills for Oklahoma. There might have been a detour to Florida along the way, but he couldn't be happier.

"I ended up in a good spot," he said. "I left Oklahoma because my coach left (for UCLA) and I wanted to find a place I could be comfortable with and I found it.

"It's good to be here and everything happens for a reason."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

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