Roberts jumps to next level

Featured Image: Senior Geni Roberts jumps during the triple jump
event at the 2023 ODAC Indoor Track and Field Championships on the campus of Roanoke College. Ryan Purrington | Courtesy

After being named a 5x NCAA All-American, Geni Roberts, a track and field athlete, plans to jump at graduate level.

Geni Roberts is a senior on the Track and Field team at Virginia Wesleyan. He is a 5x NCAA All-American athlete and has plans to continue his academic and track career at the graduate level. 

Roberts started track and field in high school. “I got into the sport because my high school coaches asked me to run track and I decided to run it,” he said. 

He was a walk-on for the Track and Field team but he quickly became one of the strongest members of the team. 

Roberts said, “My favorite memory is getting here freshman year, and not having a coach, and working 10x harder because it was needed [and I] still made nationals after not having a coach.” 

He started his college career in 2020 with indoor track and field. He won the men’s triple jump with a 14.43 jump and was named ODAC Male Rookie of the Year. 

In 2021, Roberts received ODAC All-Conference honors in the long and triple jump for Indoor Track and Field. 

In the outdoor season, he placed 6th in the triple jump and 11th in the long jump at the National Championship meet. He was the ODAC Field Athlete of the Year. 

In 2022, for the indoor season, Roberts placed second in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump at the National championships. He won the ODAC championships in both the long and triple jump. 

For the outdoor season, he placed second in the National Championship in the triple long jump and won in both the long and triple jump at ODAC. 

These are just a few of the many achievements that he has earned throughout his years at VWU. Roberts said his proudest accomplishment was “getting three All-American titles in one season.” 

Roberts has grown into a strong athlete throughout the years. He stays focused and centered on his goals even during competition. 

Director of Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field Cameia Alexander said, “A lot of athletes go to the national meet and they get to the national level and they kind of choke. Geni is just not that athlete. I know that he’ll show up at championship season. 

His work ethic has improved throughout the years. He enjoys going to practice and learning from his coaches. 

Alexander made it clear that Roberts is not just reaching for the top in his athletic career but in his academic career as well. He hopes to continue his sports and academic career at graduate school. 

“He’s trying to go on and get a scholarship somewhere and he’s had a lot of good offers and I think something that’s driving him now is to be able to be better so you can get a really good offer,” Alexander said.

Roberts is excited to continue his track and academic careers. He said, “Recruitment for grad school is very time consuming, and demanding. It’s been fun and a very unique experience, due the fact that I didn’t get recruited to run anywhere. I just walked onto Virginia Wesleyan. Overall I have committed but won’t make it public until track is over for the year.” 

Track and Field Jumps Coach Dr. Richmond Letterio, is one of Roberts’ main coaches. Both Alexander and Letterio hope to see Roberts take first place at ODACs and Nationals. 

“I want to see him cap off his senior year and VWU career with a national championship,” Coach Letterio said.

Roberts is excited to go to nationals and try for the win. At the most recent ODACs, he broke the meet record. He wants to continue to get better and better. 

Regarding what helps him improve the most, Roberts said, “I think having both my ankles taped so they don’t get hurt and keeping a level head and staying humble keeps me improving. My teammates also help me get better by supporting, and pushing me. My coaches Richmond and Cameia helped me and molded me into being my best self.” 

Roberts’ work ethic is a main focus for him currently. He has improved his ethic during practice greatly since his freshman year. He has grown as a teammate to help out during practices and is very encouraging during meets and practices. 

“At meets, he’s making sure everyone’s getting up and cheering,” Director Alexander said. 

Roberts has high hopes for the team. He wants to see the team win at ODACs and have more of the team go to Nationals. 

Both coaches seem to have a similar idea of one of Roberts’ best meets and jumps. “My favorite jump was his first jump at outdoor NCAAs this past year because he set a personal best on his first jump with a 15.16m (49’9″). His best before that was 14.73m (48’4″). So it was a personal best by almost a foot and a half and all the other coaches were demanding that they re-measure because there was no way it was correct. So we just said let’s do it again, and on the next jump he went 15.11m to quiet everyone,” Coach Letterio said. 

“It felt great because I work too hard for someone to discredit my work,” said Roberts. 

The Marlins return for their outdoor season over spring break as they host the annual Betty S. Rogers Spring Break Invitational on March 17-18 at the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center in Virginia Beach.

By MK Morris Larkin