Jayden McCulskie-Green was pretty direct about what the recruitment process is like during a pandemic.
"The process has been hell," said McCulskie-Green, a Sandwich senior. "The process was really awful. With all this stuff going on, it's super hard. A lot of these coaches are basing it off sophomore year outdoor season and junior year indoor, so it's hard."
McCulskie-Green is in a good place now, though.
He firmed up his college plans Monday, signing with South Dakota for track and field. McCulskie-Green, second in the Class 2A triple jump as a sophomore in 2019 and seventh in the state long jump, started talking to South Dakota earlier this fall and visited the campus in October.
McCulskie-Green, who had at one point planned to attend Marquette, is friends with South Dakota freshman Virgil Steward, who ran sprints at Metea Valley. McCulskie-Green felt the school was a good fit distance-wise, and it also has a jumps and vault coach, Derek Miles, with a pedigree. Miles has coached 25 All-Americans at the Division I level, and both his men's and women's pole vault squads were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, respectively, in 2020.
McCulskie-Green will do triple and long jump at South Dakota, possibly adding in high jump.
"They are very well known for their field events," McCulskie-Green said. "They know what they're doing. I knew it would be a good fit."
Ever confident, McCulskie-Green has had high hopes for some time. When he was in sixth grade he told himself that he wanted to do high jump when he was older. He proceeded to take third in the state as an eighth-grader in the high jump, but as a freshman at Sandwich his coach put him in the triple and long jump.
By the end of the year he was ranked among the top two or three in his class statewide in all three events.
"Really, my freshman year my main focus was to be able to jump at the collegiate level," McCulskie-Green said. "I didn't think I could jump D1 until I got second in the state. After I did that I was like,'Oh yeah, I'm going for the big time.' "
He's glad the recruitment process is over with, and looks forward to a possible senior season after junior year was wiped out due to COVID-19. McCulskie-Green bruised both heels and broke his big toe and was hurt most of the summer, but returned to jump at two summer meets in Chicago.
These days he tries to stay busy doing sprints and weight training at Go For It Sports in Yorkville.
"I was talking to a couple other schools, but they just didn't feel 100% right," McCulskie-Green said. "As soon as I got campus at South Dakota I felt like I was at home. All the official visits are squashed right now, but I contacted a couple of the track guys and hung out with them for two nights. I got a good vibe for the campus. It's easy to get around, a small school, which I was looking forward to."