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United States Olympian has family in Lincoln

By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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United States triple jumper Aarik Wilson will have plenty of support from Lincoln when he competes in the Olympics Monday in Beijing, China. Wilson’s stepmother, Sheri Wilson, his half brother Evan Wilson, 17, and half sister Taylor Wilson, 14, will be throwing a party while enjoying the festivities on TV. Evan is looking forward to Monday’s preliminary competition. The finals for the triple jump will be held Wednesday. “My whole neighborhood is into it and all my friends from Lincoln are going to come and watch him jump,” Evan said. “And I’m going to get T-shirts that say “Aarik” on them and I’ll probably make a poster and hang it outside.” The 25-year-old Aarik, who lives in Kansas, called to talk to Evan just before boarding the plane to China. “That was good – kind of like a big brother to younger brother talk. That was cool,” said Evan, who moved with his mom and sister two weeks ago from Grass Valley. “I was at church camp so he was talking about how God was working through me. And we talked about the girl thing. “He didn’t do so great the first time (at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2004, 14th place) but this time (at this year’s Olympic Trials) he did it.” And Aarik did it with a stress fracture in the tibia of his left leg. Despite the injury, Aarik’s final jump at the trials of 57 feet, 2 ¼ inches was good enough for first place. Aarik grew up in Fallon, Nev., and was the state champion twice in the triple jump. He then attended Indiana University on a track and field scholarship and was named an All-American 10 times. After graduating from Indiana in 2005 and with Nike as his sponsor, Aarik jumped in track meets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Aarik recorded national championships in the triple jump at both the U.S. Indoor and Outdoor meets in 2007, including a personal-best jump indoors (56-8.5). He also placed in the long jump in both meets, finishing third indoors and sixth outdoors. Sheri married Aarik’s father Stan Wilson when Aarik was 4 and his younger sister Tia Wilson was 18-months-old. Sheri and Stan then had Evan and Taylor and the couple divorced in 1996. Stan lives in Southern California and Evan and Taylor see him periodically. Aarik’s sister Tia is among the family members in Beijing and she will send a box with T-shirts and other memorabilia to Sheri, Evan and Taylor. Aarik won a medal in the Junior Olympics in Sacramento at age 12 and Sheri will never forget something he said to her at that age. “He told me ‘one day I will make the Olympics,’” Sheri said. “Aarik has come from a broken home, and the injury in high school and the stress fracture (this year) – he has overcome a lot of obstacles.” The injury came when Aarik broke his shoulder blade while playing football for Fallon High. Largely because Stan’s football career had ended because of a neck injury, Aarik’s mother Kirsten and Stan decided that Aarik shouldn’t play football anymore. Stan was a running back who signed with the Raiders and 49ers of the NFL but never played in a game because of a neck fracture. He also signed with the LA Express of the USFL. “Aarik (6-foot-3, 194 pounds) wanted to play football (wide receiver) and when he was in the ninth grade I pretty much had to make him run track because he was slow,” Stan said. “I wanted to build his speed for football and he didn’t want to run but he went out anyway. And instead of sprints they put him in the jumping events. It’s just a blessing, there is no way I thought he would go this far in track. I always thought he would be a wide receiver playing football.” Stan is a campus supervisor at Valley View High in Moreno Valley and he will be working while Aarik is competing Monday. But he has everyone at the school fired up for the event and he and others will be glued to the action on a campus TV. – Bruce Warren contributed to this story