By Maurice Patton
Columbia Central graduate Roman Woodson signed scholarship papers Thursday with Lee University, as he will continue his track and field career with the NCAA Division II program in Cleveland, Tenn.
It’s a second chance, of sorts, for Woodson after missing out on this year’s Spring Fling. Woodson sustained a pulled right hamstring prior to the Region 4-Large Class track meet, preventing him from qualifying for a third state appearance in the long jump.
“It wasn’t that bad. I’d already been there,” said Woodson, who qualified both as a freshman – in his first year of track and field competition – and as a sophomore, before missing his junior year because of the pandemic.
“But I know I should have went.”
Woodson, who won the prestigious Great 8 this spring with a jump of 23 feet, 8¾ inches, was eyeing 24 feet or more at Spring Fling. Prior to the Great 8, his best jump had been 22-9½.
“I’m aiming for 25,” he said, regarding his collegiate goal.
“He’d have gone 24 at state,” Central coach Thalas Steele said. “It will be fun to see him in college. He’ll be a 24-, 25-foot guy. He still has a lot of upside.”
With other offers from Shorter and Talladega, Woodson said the Cleveland campus was a more comfortable environment for him.
“It just felt like Lee fit best for me and my family,” he said.
“I think the academic aspect – their kids are academically oriented,” Steele said. “They’ve got a great track facility, just built last year. It’s basically brand new. He’s stepping in, really, at the right time.”
A dual-sport athlete at Central – he played defensive back and returner for the Lion football team – Woodson will benefit from focusing on a single sport collegiately, according to his coach.
“He won’t have football, he won’t have spring practice,” Steele said. “He’ll be able to dedicate himself completely to the sport. It’ll have his undivided attention.”