Wright, known as, "J.W., quit the track while in high school for a variety of reasons his freshman and junior years. However, as a senior he came back, but found little need to train hard and did his hardest work in meets. Wright enrolled at WVU only two weeks before classes and proceeded to concentrate on style in addition to dedicating himself to long practice sessions. As a freshman he was a strong contender but spent most of the season adjusting to college competition. In his sophomore year, Wright emerged with the air of a future All-American as he placed eighth in the nation in the triple jump at the NCAA indoor track meet in 1969. According to his coach Stan Romanoski, "It is an honor to just compete in the national championship. After placing as a sophomore, Wright will have the experience and ability to move even higher in the next two years." After achieving his All-American feat indoors, Wright proceeded to the outdoor season where he seriously threatened the University's triple jump record of 46 feet, 10 and one-quarter inches, in addition to the long jump record of 23 feet, 7 inches. Furthermore, Wright proved his asset to the team by holding down the second leg of the 440-yard relay team.