The year-long message, both from the indoor and outdoor seasons, has not changed for Purdue: Be at your best come championship time.
That time is rapidly approaching.
The Purdue track and field team will be sending 26 athletes to this weekend’s NCAA East Regional in Jacksonville, Florida. The men’s side will feature 11 athletes while there will be 15 female Boilermakers making the trip as well. As sophomore Carmeisha Cox said, the Regional meet is “the best of the best.”
Below are a few noteworthy storylines and entrants into the Regional meet.
Carmeisha Cox – 4x400 Relay
Cox is a member of the best 4x400 relay team in school history. Cox, a sophomore, joins freshmen Symone Black, Brionna Thomas and fellow sophomore Makayla Earnheart as the members of the best 4x400 team entering the Regional. According to Cox, the team is in as good of a position as they could be at this point in the season.
“We’ve definitely seen our time drop; we’ve broken the school record multiple times. So I would definitely say that we’re doing pretty good,” Cox said with a chuckle.
An interesting facet of this relay team in particular is their collective mindset. The four runners are a close group, but make a point to focus on themselves as individuals leading into races.
“Before we run, each person has a set goal and their job is to go after that set goal,” Cox said. “It’s not really about making up for somebody who hasn’t done their part, everybody just has to get as close to their personal goal as possible.”
A major point of emphasis for the team is their handling of the baton, something that can sink even the fastest of squads if not prepared for properly.
“We definitely need to get the (baton) around. I know the 4x400 relay isn’t as hard as the 4x100, but it’s still important to take care of the (baton) so there’s no mishaps or a dropped baton,” Cox said. “It’s about getting familiar with the baton in your hand and getting familiar with the person who is giving you the baton.”
Chukwuebuka Enekwechi –
ShotPut, Hammer Throw
Possibly Purdue’s most notorious competitor, Enekwechi goes into the Regional meet as the No. 1 overall seed in the hammer throw and the No. 12 seed in the shot put. Coming off of a second consecutive Big Ten Championship, Enekwechi is throwing better than ever, but he doesn’t believe he’s done progressing.
“I’m well along in my progression, but I haven’t peaked,” Enekwechi said almost as if in warning.
At Big Tens, Enekwechi was coming off of a hand injury that left him unable to practice the week before the meet.
“I was hurt the week before. Some skin had ripped off my hand, so I didn’t get to throw for about a week,” Enekwechi said. “Then, the week of (Big Ten Championships), during the shake-out, I was getting in some really good throws ... Then I just managed to keep throwing well during competition.”
His time off allowed Enekwechi to “reset” mentally and physically, possibly giving him better results.
Regardless, Enekwechi will be on everybody’s radar this weekend in Jacksonville.
Savannah Carson – 4x100 Relay, Long Jump
Carson will be competing in two events at Regionals, one track and one field. She qualified in the 100-meter, but opted not to force herself to prepare for three separate events.
“I just wanted to focus more on long jump this week, but it’s not because I couldn’t handle doing both. I had a choice and I just chose to do long jump,” Carson said.
Carson will be the No. 37 seed out of 48 entrants in long jump. She’s also a member of the No. 10 seed 4x100 relay.
Her preparation and routine are now to the point where the slightest alterations become heavily scrutinized.
“You just have to make sure you spend extra time on details that need to be worked on for each event,” Carson said.
Matthew McClintock – 10,000
The ever-consistent, always successful endurance runner is ready to elevate himself once more.
Matt McClintock, a junior distance runner, opted to run in the 10,000-meter run over the 5,000-meter run. He’s ranked higher in the 10K and, due to body conservation and rules regarding running in the 5K, chose to just run the 10K instead of both.
However, McClintock is more than ready for the 10K, a race that calls for 25 laps around the 400-meter track.
“I’d say it’s my better event,” McClintock said. “It’s a longer, more grinding race. Whereas the (5K) is a lot more anaerobic speed–based. With the 10K, I’m better at pacing, a better aerobic runner. Grinding and pacing is better for me.”
McClintock, who also runs cross country, looks to call upon his bevy of skills he’s learned in cross country to his advantage on the oval track.
“It’s a smaller group, but I try to set myself in the middle of the pack,” McClintock said. “But like cross country, the best runners will separate themselves toward the end of the race and that’s what I try to do.”