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Wildcat Watch: Clayton and Weaver Leaving Legacies

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
Graduate high jumper Roschell Clayton holds Villanova’s record at 1.88 meters.

Despite the win on Sunday at Wells Fargo, it’s no secret that the 2023-24 Villanova men’s basketball season will not go down as one of its best. With a 13-11 record so far, the Wildcats may close out their season without a trip to the NCAA for the second year in a row.

Although opportunities to sing “V for Victory” have been decreasing at some basketball games, many other student-athletes deserve recognition, as they carry the school’s sports reputation forward.

One such athlete is graduate high jumper Roschell Clayton, who continues to cement her legacy, becoming Villanova’s absolute school record holder for the high jump at 1.88 meters over the weekend at the Eagle Elite Invitational in Boston.

“I’m not even sure if I fully process what’s been going on,” Clayton said. “I haven’t really taken the time to sit down and say, ‘Oh my gosh, Roschell, have you realized that you’ve literally been jumping a new personal best at every meet that you’ve been to? Who does that?’”

Although Clayton came to Villanova all the way from Montego Bay, Jamaica, her story is a familiar one to many track and field athletes.

“When it comes to track and field, a lot of people typically start at around age twelve or thirteen,” Clayton said. “I started at around 16 or 17. I used to play the sport netball back home. And then we got too old, and they didn’t have a senior team and I was bored.”

Clayton was mainly self-taught when she began training for the high jump.

“When I found out that my high school had a track and field team, I initially joined to do the long jump. And then the day before my coach took us to our first truck meet, he said, ‘Oh, by the way, I signed you up for high jump as well.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know anything about this sport.’ So, I had to go home and watch YouTube videos all night and learn about high jump.”

Now, as a graduate Wildcat, Clayton has embarked on a record-setting tour in 2024. Starting at the UPenn 10-Team Select, she initially tied Sanaä Barnes’ record of 1.84m from the NCAA Championships in 2019. 

Two weeks later, at the Penn State Invitational, she was ready to claim the record, clearing 1.85m and taking first place.

To start the day in the Eagle Elite Invitational, she dominated, clearing 1.86m and then setting her sights on Barnes’ 1.87m record, which she set in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. 

After missing on her first attempt, Clayton pushed even more on her second, clearing the 1.88m bar and cementing the record for highest jump a current or former Wildcat has ever achieved. 

“I’m extremely happy because these past few months I’ve really taken the time to build up my mental health,” Clayton said. “I’ve really been focusing on staying in the right mindset and keeping it there, developing some real confidence. I really worked on believing in myself this semester because I came to realize that your mindset can be your biggest setback when you’re trying to accomplish something.”

In the season before setting this record, Clayton achieved a height of 1.81m at the NCAA Championships, where she placed 14th. With these numbers, she stands at the top of a group of only three Wildcats who have ever cleared the high jump bar at a height above 1.80m. 

In addition to her status as a Wildcat, Clayton has also competed on the national and international level at the Jamaican U20 Championships in 2019 and finished third at the JAAA CARIFTA Trials in March 2020. 

“I would love to represent Jamaica in the Olympics, surely,” Clayton said. “I mean, that’s my country. That’s my roots. And that’s where I was born and raised. I have a lot to be grateful for coming from there. Olympic wise, I recently learned that the qualified marks are 1.99m, and that’s a stretch. It would be amazing, though. I would love to work towards that.”

In the theme of leaving one’s mark on Villanova Athletics, senior golfer Peter Weaver has been redefining the men’s golf program for the past four years, setting records and cementing himself in the Villanova Athletics future Hall of Fame. Despite his new reputation as the best golfer in school history, Weaver’s choice to come to Villanova came down not only to his ability to play golf but also the quality of an engineering degree. 

“I knew I wanted to do engineering and golf,” Weaver said. “So, I needed a combination of both. My older brother, Tom, played golf in college. I wanted to do a similar thing to him. So, I always wanted to play golf in college and then engineering, as well.”

Despite beginning his career as a Wildcat during Covid, the 21-year-old golfer from Frontenac, Missouri quickly rose to success as a sophomore, earning himself a spot on the All-Big East second team and eventually on the All-Big East First Team his junior year. 

Senior golfer Peter Weaver holds school records in career scoring average, most wins, and more.

“If you had told my high school self I’d be doing all this, I probably wouldn’t believe you,” Weaver said. “I maybe wasn’t the most confident or didn’t look too high myself coming out of high school. It’s been really cool to see all the hard work paying off and I’ve just had the best time at Villanova and can’t wait to finish strong here in the next couple months.” 

Throughout his time on the team, the Villanova Athletics Student-Athlete of the Month has claimed the school’s record for career scoring average (72.50), most wins (4), most birdies (244) and most par or better rounds (32). 

“I guess it’s just a result of all the hard work, “ Weaver said. “It was never the goal of mine to break all the records, but [it’s] a nice accolade to have. I think it shows all the hard work we’ve put in over the last four years or so.” 

In addition to Weaver’s success, the golf team has been on its own upward trend, with sophomore Ryan Pamer claiming the Big East Freshman of the Year last season. 

“Coach Aylward and Coach Wilkes are doing a great job,” Weaver said. “We got our two simulator bays a couple years ago, which really helped the team. And now we have two freshmen coming in, who are statistically ranked the highest recruiting class Villanova has ever had coming in next year as freshmen. It’s really exciting.” 

When he’s not making history at Villanova, Weaver likes to “weave” through the amateur golf circuit in Missouri, and has won the Missouri Amateur, St. Louis District Golf Association’s Griesedieck Championship, as well as the Metropolitan Amateur in 2023, becoming the first golfer to ever do both. 

Yet, despite the accolades, Weaver is more focused on putting his engineering degree to use as he prepares for his last competitions as a Wildcat and his graduation.  

“I’ve thought about turning pro for a little bit, more so maybe during my sophomore and junior year,” Weaver said. “But now I’ve set on getting a job, working in the real world and then just playing as many amateur tournaments as I can. That’s the current kind of path I’m on, but I couldn’t be happier.”

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