By Daniel Hernandez
It has been 33 years since the Riverside City College high jump record was set and a former Division 1 high school state champion has his eyes set on breaking that record.
Darius Hill, one of track and field’s newest recruits from Vista Murrieta high school, joined the team with an impressive resume. Hill placed first in every high jump event he competed in throughout the 2021 season, including the postseason.
“He graduated from my high school … and if you didn’t know, Vista Murrieta is a really big track and field powerhouse,” coach CJ Alumbres said. “(I’m) really excited to get a quality athlete like him because he is really coachable.”
The most notable accomplishment on his resume, however, is his high jump personal record (PR) of 6 feet 10 inches — a mere couple of inches away from the RCC record.
The record, set in 1989 by Brian McCurdy, stands at 7 feet and 3/4 of an inch. It is one of the oldest standing records in Tiger track and field history, with the oldest being a 3,000-meter steeplechase event set in 1988.
And it looks like Hill might be the one to finally break the longstanding record.
Hill started the year strong by placing first at the Moorpark Open on Feb. 4 and set a collegiate PR of 6-8 3/4. But after that first meet, it seemed Hill had trouble clearing the high bar he set for himself. Hill jumped two inches under his PR during the next two meets and it looked like he had plateaued.
That is, until the Ben Brown Invitational on March 12 when he once again reached 6-8 3/4.
He went on to clear the same height once again at the RCC Open a week later, proving his previous performance wasn’t a fluke.
“I couldn’t even get to 6-8 3/4 (before) so I’m glad to be able to get there so easily and consistently,” Hill said after placing first at the RCC Open. “Now we can only go up from there.”
It’s taken some time for Hill to adjust to the collegiate atmosphere but it seems that as the season progresses, so will he.
“I’ve been getting a lot more endurance and all that stuff so all my marks are off from high school,” Hill said. “So it was just a lot of playing with marks, a lot of doing little tweaks and I think we finally found a mark that works.”
After reaching his PR at the RCC Open and after the other competitors were eliminated, Hill attempted to reach 6-10 again. It seemed like Hill was going to clear the new height on his first attempt until his back leg scraped the bar. He walked back, consulted Alumbres and set himself up for his second and, inevitably, third attempt.
He wasn’t able to break the mark that day but got a step closer to reaching his new goal.
“All the attempts today at 6-10 looked really good,” Hill said. “We are getting there. It’s going to happen.”
But it is going to take Hill getting out of his head according to Alumbres.
“The main thing with him is just him being himself,” Alumbres said. “At practice we do a lot of nitpicking and working on details of his approach but when it comes to meet day I just tell him ‘hey this is your event’.”
Once Hill puts all the pieces together, that school record is surely in sight.