USF Track and Field’s Goodness Iredia Has Eyes on Championship Contention

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GOUSFBULLS.COM – He’s a valuable asset for USF men’s track and field program, which is preparing to make a splash at this weekend’s NCAA East Regional at Lexington, Ky.

Already, he has made a big name for himself.

And it’s quite a name.

Goodness Osamudiamen Iredia.

“You always hear people saying, ‘Oh my goodness,’ right?” Iredia said with a smile. “You hear it all the time. Sometimes, I will look around and think, ‘Are they calling my name?’ I like my name Goodness, but it can get confusing.”

There’s no confusion about Iredia’s talent. He’s a native of Nigeria and a Cumberland University transfer who has quickly matured into an NCAA championship contender for the long jump and triple jump.

Iredia won both events at the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships, providing valuable points in USF’s team victory. He went 25 feet, 2.75 inches in the long jump and 53 feet, 3 inches (seventh-best in the NCAA this season) in the triple jump.

“Goodness has a lot of talent, but talent only takes you so far,” Bulls coach Erik Jenkins said. “If you’re going to be successful at this level, you have to be disciplined and you’ve got to listen to your coaches. He does that and he works very hard. So he has all the ingredients for success.”

USF is poised for great success with 33 athletes (22 men, 11 women) headed to the regionals. Iredia is seeded third in the long jump and seventh in the triple jump to help pace a strong men’s contingent that includes Abdul-Rasheed Saminu (seeded second in the 100 meters), Shevioe Reid (seeded eighth in the 200 meters), Vincent Ugwoke (seeded fifth in the discus), the 4×100 relay (seeded second) and the 4×400 relay (seeded fifth).

For the USF women, expect senior Shaniya Benjamin to figure heavily in any potential success. She’s seeded 14th in the long jump and 18th in the 200 meters, while being part of the seventh-seeded 4×400 relay and the 13th-seeded 4×100 relay.

“You get into this business to try and be successful, so there’s no bulls-eye on us,” Jenkins said. “If that’s what you’re shooting for anyway, expectations don’t matter. Our focus is being a team that competes for titles in the AAC and we want to have a national presence. For us, it’s about doing your job. That’s our expectation.”

Iredia welcomes that attitude. He’s a former high-jumper who tried other events at the request of coaches — and he has thrived.

“I’m still new to these events,” Iredia said. “I’m going against athletes who have done them for six, seven, maybe eight years. But I’m going to keep getting better. The sport doesn’t care. You only have a finite number of jumps. You have to take advantage of them.

“What I’m doing now is like a living testimony. I hope by next year I can be No. 1 in the nation and we can tell by just having faith and believing what God is doing in my life.”

Iredia said his “long and confusing” middle name — Osamudiamen — means “God, stand by me” in Nigerian. It was bestowed on him, along with his first name of Goodness, by his mother.

His five siblings mostly have unique names, too. There’s Gift, Merit, Treasure, Prevail and … Benjamin.

“I’m not sure what happened there (with Benjamin),” Iredia said. “I like my name. It is special. I want to be good to everybody. I thank my mother all the time for giving it to me.

“It was not a big deal in Nigeria. But here in the United States, every time I tell someone I am Goodness, they don’t believe me. I have to show them my I.D.”

USF teammates have taken to calling him “Goody.” That works, too.

“I think people believe I am always good, but I might not be acting that way all the time,” Iredia said. “So I can’t say how good I actually am. I try to live up to my name. I want to be a good person.

“I would like people to know about my jumping ability, so I hope I can keep performing well. I think we have the potential to do very, very well.”

How well?

Goodness knows.

“All I know is USF is building a fast-growing team that is capable of the biggest things,” Iredia said. “And I’m a part of it. I am very excited with what is ahead of us.”