At just 5 years old, West Forsyth’s Isaac Osifo would travel to Emory University track and field meets with his dad. They loved athletics and would go watch any sporting event they could find.
Now, 13 years later, Isaac Osifo is a state champion and nationally ranked in the high jump and will continue his track career at Penn State University.
“It feels great to finally get to do this,” Osifo said. “I’ve been waiting on this my whole life. It still all feels like a dream to me. Even when I committed, it felt super surreal.”
Osifo’s coaches, family and friends gathered Thursday at the West Forsyth High School gym to watch him sign his National Letter of Intent to become a Nittany Lion starting in August.
“I’m personally really excited about Isaac going to Penn State,” West head track coach Clayton Tillery said. "We talk about running age and I think he has so much more development left in all his events. He’s carrying on a legacy here.”
Osifo leaves the 2021 track and field season as the county champion, Region 6-7A champion, Class 7A state champion and the overall Georgia champion in the high jump.
West’s high jump coach Robert Jenkins remembered being impressed with how well he handled coming in second in this year’s sectional tournament, and he said how that speaks to Osifo’s character.
“He’s also very bright,” Jenkins said. “He’s a great student who is very conscientious. That’s important at a school like Penn State. He has a great foundation. Plus, he’s the best high jumper in the entire state.”
Though Osifo always knew he wanted to participate in track at the collegiate level, it was not until he won the Nationals in 2019 at high jump for USA Track and Field that he realized that track could be in his future.
“It’s crazy because I really didn’t love track at first,” Osifo said. “It just makes my time here worth it. Knowing everything I’ve done since freshman year has led me up to this beautiful moment right now is awesome. I’m glad to be leaving a legacy at West.”
Osifo said he estimated around 15-20 colleges recruited him, but he knew at the start of the recruiting process that academics would inform his decision.
“First of all, academics comes first and I know Penn State is a very prestigious school,” Osifo said. “The track team is super prestigious as well. I can easily see myself there for the next four years.”
On top of the academic emphasis Penn State had in its recruiting pitch, Osifo said he believes the coaches will challenge him to develop into the best athlete he can be.
“It makes my hard work worth it at the end of the day,” Osifo said. “It’s not the only reason I do it, but at the same time, having someone notice me and choose me for my talent is so sweet.”
Osifo added that the Penn State coaching staff has mentioned allowing Osifo to continue running the 4x400 meter relay and participating in the long jump as well. He has not visited the campus yet, but plans to soon.
“I’m excited for a transition into a new environment,” Osifo said. “That was kind of my thing throughout the recruiting process. I feel like college is a place you need to develop yourself as a person, so Penn State was a place I could do that too. It’s way different than Georgia.”
Now, a man who might be a little intimidated by the change of temperature in Pennsylvania, Osifo said he looks back on all the coaches that helped him along the way. However, it was his trips to Emory that remind him why he goes back to the track every day.
“Something about it, man ... something about it,” Osifo said.