MOBILE (UMobile) — University of Mobile (UMobile) sophomore Jonina Brinson won the NAIA National Championship in long jump and All-American honors at the 2016 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Johnson City, Tennessee.
The psychology major from Swainsboro, Georgia, landed the national championship title on her third and final jump March 3.
UMobile head cross country coach Andy Canegitta said competition was tough, but “I knew at the time she had it, when she did that third jump. I’m really proud of her and I know she’s proud of what she’s done. It was a pretty competitive field. She really stood out.”
Canegitta said Brinson won the title with a leap of 5.77 meters. She also earned All-American honors in the 60-meter dash and triple jump, finishing sixth in the triple jump with a mark of 11.65 meters, and seventh in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.62. Previously, she was named NAIA Field Athlete of the Year, South Region.
Brinson’s win is the university’s first track and field championship since 1995, and the first individual championship in any sport since 2000. It is Canegitta’s first national championship as a head coach.
Canegitta called Brinson “a natural leader” whose commitment to the team was evident when she transferred to the Baptist school and was required to sit out a year before competing.
“During that time she still participated in practice, still helped her teammates, still encouraged them. She ran unattached; though she didn’t count (toward the team’s score), she still sacrificed to participate. That showed me what type of person she was. She listens to the coaches, she asks questions. She is a good team player,” Canegitta said.
Canegitta said the time the entire team spends in practice and in Bible study plays an important role in competition.
“The closer you are as a team, the better you perform. The closer you are with God, the better you perform because it gives you a comfort level that through God, all things are possible. Whatever happens, it happens for a reason. God has a plan for everything; just keep your faith strong in Him. He never sets you up for failure, He always wants you to be successful,” Canegitta said.
Brinson said of the intersection of her faith and competition, “My faith is everything. You can’t do anything without God. It’s important to keep Him first, and all the honor goes to Him.”
She was honored at a surprise reception March 7 in Weaver Hall.