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Shandon Reitzell | Faces of Midland


A Leap of Faith |

It wasn’t an easy start for Shandon Reitzell in his college career.

A native of Houston, Texas, Shandon was in the midst of his first year at Cincinnati Christian University when the school closed its doors following the fall semester in 2019. On top of that, all his transcripts were lost, meaning that he wasn’t able to secure any credits for his one semester, and his athletic eligibility was put on hold for an entire year.

He arrived at Midland University ready for the spring semester in 2020, but his frustrations weren’t over as Covid hit in March, forcing all classes to be online for the remainder of the semester.

But thankfully, this story has a happy ending as Shandon is now nearing graduation. He has thrived as a student and has become one of Midland and NAIA’s most decorated high jumpers.

It’s been a journey filled with roadblocks for Shandon, but his perseverance and dedication have paid off. “College was sort of a last-minute thing for me; I really thought I would take a year break and figure out what I was going to do next. I ended up at Cincinnati Christian to compete in track and field, but things weren’t going so well, and the school closed. I started looking around at different schools, and I didn’t know anything about Midland. I responded to an email from Coach (Daniel) Gerber, and everything came together in a couple of days. I flew here, registered for classes, and started the spring semester all on the same day.”

Covid proved to be another hurdle for Shandon, who nearly walked away from college during the pandemic. “It was rough because I really prefer in-person learning. After that semester, I was ready to drop out. Coach Gerber convinced me to stay and I completed several online classes during winter break to get myself eligible for track. I finally was able to compete in my first meet in February of 2021, a year after I got here.”

That first meet was the start of what has been a decorated collegiate high jump career for Shandon. He has claimed five Great Plains Athletic Conference titles (indoor and outdoor), has won four NAIA national championships, and is a six-time All-American. He ranks second all-time among Midland outdoor jumpers and fourth on the indoor list. Not bad for a guy who was far from a stellar jumper in high school.

“I had an OK high school career. I never made it to state, but I got to regionals my senior year, and I think that’s what made me realize I had the potential to compete in college.”

Shandon is part of a loaded jump squad on the Warriors, along with Ross McMahon (a multi-time All-American), Robert Atwater, and KeRon Blackwell. That foursome has Midland ranked first in the latest USTFCCCA event squad rankings. “We have a very competitive environment, and we’re willing to work harder than anyone. Other jumpers tell us all the time they wished they had a jump squad like us.”

As he enters the final four months of his track and field career, Shandon is appreciative of all the moments along the way and wants to make sure he exits with more good memories. “In high school, I never would have guessed the career I’ve had would have been possible. My goal in my final season is to have fun. Winning has always been the standard for me, but that hasn’t always been the best way to go about it. The reason I started competing in track and field was to have fun, and I don’t want this to ever feel like a job instead of the sport I love to do.”

While he doesn’t envision competing professionally as a high jumper, he does want to continue to be a part of a sport that has been a major part of his life. He is putting his digital marketing skills to work by running the social media outlets for Fremont High School’s cross-country teams and could one day see himself helping other college athletes excel in the sport.

“I’m starting to become more comfortable with watching track than competing, and I want to coach in college someday. I want to help bring some of the hype back to track and field in the United States.”

After graduation in May, Shandon isn’t sure where his next step will take him, but he is thankful his journey, although it had a few obstacles, led him to Midland. “I’ve enjoyed my time at Midland, and everyone here has been very supportive and helpful. I’ve been blessed.”

Shandon Reitzell is a senior Digital Marketing major from Houston, Texas.

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