Though he stands quite a bit under 6 feet, Brent Dionisio can clear nearly 7 feet in the high jump.
The Pioneer Valley High and Hancock College grad plans on clearing that highly-sought after mark soon.
On Tuesday, Dionisio signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of New Mexico during a ceremony inside Hancock's gymnasium.
Dionisio burst onto the regional track scene after he cleared 6-foot-8 in high school. His 6-8 is still the PAC 8 League record. Dionisio was a four-time Santa Barbara County champion and two-time CIF qualifier.
At Hancock, Dionisio competed in 2015 before taking the 2016 season off.
The future Lobo first noticed his jumping ability in middle school, but never thought he'd reach these Division I heights.
"When I was in middle school I noticed that I could jump but I didn't take it as anything," Dionisio said. "I guess you could say it was natural, but hard work also plays a part in that. My freshman and sophomore year I started to get better in my height. So I was like, 'OK. I think this is something I can do at the next level.'
"So I just kept working at it. Hard work beats talent every time."
Dionisio finished his career with the Bulldogs strong in 2017. He leaves the school with a personal best mark of 6-10.75. He won the 2017 Western State Conference high jump title with a top mark of 6-10.25 and then finished fourth during the 2017 CCCAA Track and field State Championships.
Dionisio earned first-place finishes in six meets this past season, including the Cal Poly Invitational where he beat 10 athletes from four-year universities, according a Hancock press release..
Dionisio will attend the University of New Mexico on an academic scholarship. New Mexico's Amigo Scholarship is for non-resident students who must hold an ACT score of 23 or higher, score at least 1130 on the SAT and hold a 3.5 GPA. He's a health sciences major who plans to become a physical therapist.
Though Dionisio feels the Lobos will be a good fit both academically and athletically, he has yet to check out the campus in Albuquerque.
"I'm excited because the coaches are excited about me going there," Dionisio said. "I'm looking forward to that and hoping to step my game up when I'm over there."
Dionisio was biding his time with his commitment, seeing which other schools sought his services and which one would make for the best fit.
"(New Mexico) was in contact with me during mid-season, but I wanted to keep my options for a little bit," Dionisio said. "I had them on the side for a little bit until other offers came. But New Mexico gave me the best scholarship so I took that. The coaches seemed excited, they were emailing me every other week.
"I know it's late, but better late than never."
Nick Puckett, Hancock's jumps coach, feels Dionisio is ready to compete at the Division I level.
"He's self-motivated. No one is going to have to nurse him along," Puckett said. "He trains by himself, he warms up by himself. He knows what he needs. He knows what his strengths and his weaknesses are. He knows what he needs to do."
Hancock's head track and field coach, Louie Quintana, agrees with Puckett.
"He deserves it. He's worked really hard to do this," Quintana said. "At the next level he's ready to go. The coach really liked him. When we talked he was pretty excited over it and they needed a jumper. So we thought that would be a good place for him to go. It's pretty far away but he's going to do well there."
Puckett said during training for the state championships earlier this year Dionisio was close to clearing 7-2.
"We'd put the bar up there to get a visual and to get an idea of how close he is," Puckett said. "He's not concerned about the height. He's ready to take that on."
New Mexico's track team, a member of the Mountain West Conference, is a competitive one. The Lobos finished fourth at the MWC championships this season, and 23rd at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Derek Drouin, a senior from Indiana, cleared 7-8 to win the NCAA high jump championship earlier this month. A mark of 7 feet will be good enough to get Dionisio to the NCAA Championships. The NCAA qualifying standard is 2.10 meters, or 6-10.75 feet.
"When I get up there I want to be the conference champion, of course," Dionisio said. "I want to make it to NCAAs. But also get that 7-foot mark that I've been itching to get so bad. It's right there. It's close."