Matthew O'Neal's legendary career at USF has come to an end. The reigning Bulls Best Male Athlete finished third in the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Friday night.
"I think I did pretty well," O'Neal told GoUSFBulls.com afterwards. "I thank God for the opportunity to just be here again in my senior year. I'm grateful to be among great jumpers here in Oregon and I'm looking forward to being back here in July for the Olympic Trials."
The Jackson, MS native was vying to become the first national champion at USF since Jon Dennis in the 5000 meters in 1993.
O'Neal entered Friday's competition as one of the favorites after posting a school record and nation-leading jump of 55-9 3/4 (17.01m) in the NCAA East Preliminary to qualify. His first jump of 53-5 3/4 (16.30m) was enough to advance to the final round where the top nine jumpers in the field would compete for the title.
In the final round his next-to-last jump of 54-5 1/4 (16.59m) was his day's best, but wasn't enough to elevate him above second-place KeAndre Bates from Florida and eventual champ Latario Collie out of Texas A&M.
"From my coaches to our athletic trainers, everyone has helped me so much at USF and I'm very thankful for all of them," said O'Neal after his bronze performance.
A six-time AAC champion, six-time All-American, the 2015 USF Male Athlete of The Year, and recipient of the Lee Roy Selmon Award, O'Neal finishes as one of the most decorated athletes that has donned the green and gold. He'll be missed around the USF community on and off the track, but is also a threat to qualify for the 2016 Olympic team.