Fejiro Onakpoma is reaching new heights as an Owl.
Onakpoma, a former Naugatuck Greyhound who is a track star at Southern Connecticut State University, earned All-American honors during the outdoor season by placing seventh in the triple jump at the NCAA Division II Championship with a career-best leap of 15.47 meters (50 feet, 9 1/2 inches).
It marked the second straight season that Onakpoma, who recently completed his junior year at Southern, was named an All-American. He earned that honor during the indoor track season with a sixth-place finish in the triple jump at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championship.
Following his back-to-back All-American seasons, Onakpoma was named the 2019 United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) East Region Field Athlete of the Year.
“There were a lot of strong competitors at the nationals,” Onakpoma said. “You just need to go in there and try and block out all the distractions and focus on what you know you can do.
“I had a good season at indoors and just tried to carry that over to the outdoor season. It takes a lot of practice and hard work to continue improving. Physically the hard work pays off, but then it comes down to getting better with the mental aspect of the competition, and that’s where I saw my biggest improvement.”
During his time at Naugatuck High, Onakpoma won two Class L championships in the triple jump, a Naugatuck Valley League championship, State Open championship and New England championship.
At Southern, he qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship for the second season in a row with a career-best jump of 15.44 meters (50 feet, 8 inches) and was ranked sixth nationally.
Onakpoma helped Southern win its third straight North East 10 Indoor Conference Championship, winning the NE-10 triple jump title and finishing second at the New England championship.
That set the tone for the outdoor season where Southern went on to win its third straight NE-10 championship and won a second straight New England Championship.
Onakpoma was named NE-10 Field Athlete of the Year at the indoor and outdoor championships.
“We are so proud of Fejiro and what he is accomplishing at Southern,” Naugatuck head track coach Ralph Roper said. “We have always felt that he would do great things in college because he has such a work ethic and is always trying to improve. He is part of that Naugatuck connection down at Southern. Last year, Aren Seeger joined the program, and this year we will have a few more Greyhounds to add to their program.”
“Naugatuck has such a great program under coach Roper,” Onakpoma said. “To see so many former Greyhounds makes it feel like family here at Southern.”