Richard Annorat burst upon the college track scene as a freshman at Albion College three years ago, winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association indoor high jump championship.

He didn’t defend his title last year, but he’s come back with a vengeance in his junior year.

Annorat set a league meet record with his jump of 6 feet, 8 ¼ inches, cruising to the high jump title last weekend. He also finished second in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump. He was also named the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association most valuable field performer in the indoor championship meet.

Annorat will next compete in the NCAA Division III indoor national championships, to be held in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday, March 10.

“As a sophomore, I was the defending league champ, but due to injuries and some pressure I put on myself, I didn’t perform the way I was supposed to,” Annorat said. “My coach (Lance Coleman) was disappointed in me and I was disappointed in myself. I knew I had to come into this year and dominate the way I was supposed to last year. I felt I had to be a team leader and set a good example.”

Annorat has held true on that promise of domination, breezing past the competition all year, jumping as high as 6-11. Annorat and his coach admitted he could have jumped even higher than his record performance Saturday, but wanted to conserve some energy for the triple jump, long jump and 60-meter hurdle events.

“He definitely could have gone higher than he did,” Coleman said. “But he wanted to kind of cut it off and focus on his three other events, because he wanted to score more points for the team. That’s the type of guy he is.”

Coleman says Annorat has really emerged as a team leader over the last few years, particularly this one.

“Rich is a very good teammate,” Coleman said. “He really supports all the guys and girls on the team. He senses when someone needs that pick me up. He makes people know they’re special. He’s one of the team leaders and point scorers and he gives his time to everyone on the team.”

That giving nature extends beyond the track. An English and education major, Annorat has gotten heavily involved in the Albion community, a small town of just over 8,000 people located 100 miles west of Detroit and 50 miles east of Kalamazoo. He volunteers for five organizations, where he mainly mentors children.

“I was born in Haiti and as a Haitian, I’m grateful for a lot of things,” he said. “Coming up to Michigan, I’ve seen a lot of kids in low-income areas. Being from a third-world country, I try to give these kids someone to look up to, to show them they can do anything they want if they work at it.”

He says moving from Naples, where so many have so much, to a place like Albion has been a real eye-opener for him.

“Being from Naples, it’s almost like being in a box,” he said. “There’s a lot of high-class, high profile people. Then you go somewhere else and you realize everywhere isn’t like Naples. I definitely learned that the hard way, but it’s made me a better person.”

He’s also learned to appreciate the four seasons he now gets to experience, especially fall.

“I had never seen snow before in my life until I got up here,” he said. “And I never truly realized the beauty of the leaves changing colors in the fall. I kind of thought that was something you only saw in movies. It didn’t seem real to me.”

Annorat’s coach says the 2016 Lely graduate has a bright future in whatever he decides to pursue.

“He’s really good with children, so I was really ecstatic when I found out he wants to be a teacher,” Coleman said. “But I also think he should get into coaching as well. He’s very good at reaching people and getting the best out of them. He is extremely charismatic and when he talks, people listen.”

Rich Annorat career track highlights

2018 Indoor Season

·        Achieved all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association distinction with his league championship in the high jump, clearing the bar at 2.05 meters (6’ 8 ¾”), a meet record

·        Claimed the MIAA silver medal in the triple jump (46’ 5 ¼”)

·        Achieved school record when he sailed 46' in the triple jump at Ohio Northern in February

2017 Outdoor Season

·        Achieved all-Great Lakes Region distinction when he cleared the high jump at 6’ 6 ¼” in a March 25 meet at Indiana Wesleyan University

·        Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association runner-up in the triple jump (43' 8 ½”) and scored sixth place performances in the high jump and long jump

2016 Outdoor Season

·        Cleared 6' 7" in the high jump in an April meet at Ohio Northern to secure all-region status

·        MIAA Championship: third place in the 110-meter hurdles (15.91 seconds) and fourth place in the high jump (6' 1 ½")

2016 Indoor Season

·        Gained all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association distinction by clearing the bar at 6' 4" to win the high jump

·        MIAA runner-up finish in the 60-meter hurdles (8.61 seconds) and sixth place in the triple jump (42' 1 ½")