Tiger Blogs :: Amaechi Oselukwue, Senior Track Sprinter
June 3, 2008
Mr. Amaechi checking in for the last time,
It's been a long time coming. As I'm sure everyone should know by now, I came to this team as a walk on my freshman year in 2004. My original intentions were to join the track team to stay in shape for the following football season. Because we were experiencing the D'Angelo Williams reign, I landed myself a permanent spot on the track team. For two years I felt that some people doubted me and thought that I couldn't be a valuable asset to the team, which I thought was odd being that I was slowly becoming one of the top performers on the team and were improving my times faster than the athletes who were receiving a scholarship. I quickly changed their minds during my sophomore year when my times began dropping consistently. For my first two years on the track team I ran for free; and the little money that I did end up receiving was practically next to free. By the time coach Robinson took over the program it was still hard to get much of anything with the damage that was on the programs funds. This situation haunted me for all four years of my track career at the U of M, but I still decided to stick with it and do my thing.
Sometimes I laugh inside when I think back. One of the things that tickles me most is the fact that two walk-on athletes, Sam James and myself, were always looked at as the ones who would never make it far with the program. Then by my senior year I looked around and realized that we were the only two left out of a big group of sprinters whom started with us. This achievement alone kept me head strong these last two years and allowed me to hang on. Going into my senior year and knowing that the team was about to be overwhelmed with a big group of young freshmen, at first I had the mentality that I would stay to myself, but I quickly realized that I could not do that with the way that I am. The will to want to help others quickly dawned on me that I would make a good coach as well as an athlete. With that being said, I have decided rather than just moving on to do what I do, that I would try to stay and become an affective member of the coaching staff here at the U of Memphis. Hopefully, all that will work out and I will have a chance to spread my knowledge about the sport to help this program become the best in the conference and even in the nation.
May 20, 2008
So, this weekend turned out like it should have, but it could have still been even better. I don't mean to sound all selfish and greedy, but I saw something in myself this weekend that I've never had a chance to see. I was not surprised that my time in the 110m hurdles had dropped so drastically as it did in the prelims on Friday. Though I was reaching for an even lower time, I was still somewhat satisfied with my performance. Just as I did in the indoor championships I got out to a terrible start in the finals of the 110m hurdles. It was so bad that I was looking at the backs of two of the other runners for at least 50m; then I started to think about my family, friends, and everyone who had been so proud of me for winning last years championship. Even with the lead Kris Bell from ECU had on me, I was able to power up and zoom past him for the win. I tried to stress to my younger teammates afterwards that I won that race not with speed, not with talent, but with "heart". It would have been so easy to give up and just let him have it and settle for the second place again, but who wants to be runner-up? Not me!
So, I went on to win the 110m hurdles again, which was actually expected. The biggest shocker of this weekend was in the finals of the 400m hurdles. Since I've been running the 400m hurdles I've been known to run the first 200m very well and struggle for the last 150m at least. Saturday, I was a whole different person. One thing I knew going into the race was that I had a big advantage over the other runners...wind resistance. I already knew that most of the other guys would not be able to run against the strong wind on the first backstretch, so I knew that I would have to make my move there and early. Within the first 200m I had broken the stagger on the race, even passing the expected vector Jason Perez. Some things that were different about this race were one- I had never caught that many people in this race, and two- I was not even getting tired like I usually did around that distance. That was until...I CRASHED over that one bad hurdle that always messes me up every race. Just like that, victory evaporates in the air as the other runners zoom on past me as I slide across the track on my belly. Even though I was very frustrated afterwards, I was till proud of myself for pulling off what I did and looking as good as I did. I am sure that everyone else was proud too, so it was easy to leave the whole thing at peace.
May 13, 2008
Well, the end is finally here. This weekend I along with the rest of the U of M track team will be going to compete in the C-USA Championship at UTEP. In terms of doing a do-over and winning the whole thing again, it doesn't look too good, but we are going to do our best. With this being such a young team and with all of the injures of important athletes we've picked up over the season, a second win almost seems impossible. But even with that said, we will still excel in a handful of events. With all the weight already on my shoulders, I will have to defend my crown as 110 hurdle champ and fight to get top three in the 400 hurdles. Overall, this has not been a good season for both me and the rest of the team, but I feel that everyone will pull it together and do what they have to do come crunch time. Since this will be my last conference championship, what better way for me to go out than with a BANG. I've always been known to show out and impress at Conference and plan to do that this year x's 2.
April 23, 2008
This week was a bad week for not only me, but the entire sprint group. We went to the meet expecting it to be super big with some big teams and maybe even some pro athletes, but we were quickly disappointed on that note. Though we didn't get the big teams or the pros, the meet still turned out to be pretty fast. In fact, I ran in one of the fastest overall races in the 110m hurdles since my freshman year. Even though I really didn't expect that much from myself with me going to the meet with an injured knee, I was still overwhelmed in the finals of the race when I placed last. I have not placed last in a race since my sophomore year in high school when I first started running the hurdles. It is truly frustrating right now because a whole season has gone by and I have not even broken 15.00 yet in the 110m hurdles. It was no better in the 400 meter hurdles- in fact, it was even worse. I got out in the race and was in the lead for the first 250 meter at least and after floating over one of the hurdles completely lost all my momentum and concentration and ended up walking across the line at 1:02. This was the most embarrassing meet of my college career. I am hoping that this does not follow me up to conference because I am going to have to suck it up. But as of now, I'll just stick to my blame on all the stress of trying stay up in school and graduate. Lately, my mind has been focused more towards me graduating in May and I have not been able to focus mentally on track. I know inside that I could have still run well in that 400 and that it was me being mentally tired that lost me that race. I feel that things will be better by the time conference comes since I'll be done with all the school work and worrying about projects and this and that. "Conference USA, here I come!"
April 16, 2008
Checking in for John McDonnell Invite
This past weekend at Ole Miss, I hurt my knee pretty bad in the prelims of the 110 hurdles. I got out pretty good and the race was looking real good until about half way through. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but it kept me from continuing the rest of the meet. Since Saturday the knee has heeled a little, but it is still too weak for me to compete full speed. Hopefully, it will be ready by this Saturday, because this meet is very important for me. If my knee is better, this will have to be the meet for me to qualify for regionals in at least one of my events.
Team wise, I think some of the freshmen are really starting to pull their weight at the meets and step up to the collegiate level. Hopefully, we can go into conference with a good attitude and pull another win on C-USA.
April 10, 2008
Checking in for Ole Miss
This past weekend at SEMO was ok, but it could have gone better. Though I placed 1st in the 110m hurdles my time of 15.03 was not satisfying at all. (The prize bag that came with it was nice though!) I did good, but not great in the 400m hurdles placing 4th. I believe my lack of sleep caught up to me by the time we got to the hurdles and had some affect on my performance; but I am still pleased with how well I pulled it off anyway. I'm not going to even talk about the 4x4 relay, which was a waste of energy. (The time was horrible beyond belief.)
My performances during the past weeks have not really been up to where it should be, so this weekend at Ole Miss I will have to really step it up. I especially need to bring down my time in the 110h to prepare me for both the Ark. meet coming up and conference, as well. Team-wise, we have a few dinged up athletes but they seem to still be trying their best to pull their weight so only time will tell how well we end up.
April 3, 2008
Checking in for SEMO
After last week's extreme workouts, I have found a new confidence in what I'm capable of doing. The workouts were more mental than physical in my opinion and really challenged the rest of the team and I, on how bad we wanted to finish it. Practice went pretty well this week and we are hoping to really get things going this weekend at SEMO. Hopefully, for me, this meet will be much better than the last.
March 26, 2008
Checking in for outdoor
This past weekend we had our outdoor opener at Rhodes College. I think we did pretty well overall. We had at least five people qualify for Regionals including freshman jumper Aaron Whetstone in the triple jump. I am already pretty confident in us doing well in the conference this year with the team's overall performances. I was put to the test by freshman Richard Lowe who came out and surprised me in the 400 meter hurdles running a 53.9 which is my PR time I ran at conference last year. This only opened my eyes to let me know that I was going to have to really put in work to hold my title as "top dog" on the team. But I am still proud of him for pulling this off because now I know that I have a legit successor. In the 110 meter hurdles I didn't do so well. In fact I did not even finish the race because of issues with limited warm-up which was caused by miscommunication by the coach and myself. Though my performances this past weekend were pretty bad I am not really worried because of the fact that I've never had a good meet on that track since I've been running for the U of M. I expect to pick it up next weekend at SEMO and hopefully can lead the rest of the team to having another good meet.
March 18, 2008
Back from break
Well, as usual I had a lazy spring break. It's always important for me to take advantage of breaks since I am so busy all the time. Practice Monday went well. I was hitting my times pretty consistently and for some reason I was still leaving up more hurdles than usual. Anyone who has seen me run knows that I usually don't leave any hurdles standing! Some of my teammates were picking fun at me saying that I PR'd in the number of hurdles still standing after a run. Hopefully that practice was not just a fluke and I am able to continue running the way I did. I guess I'll just test it out this weekend at Rhodes.....
March 4, 2008
Mr. Amaechi checking in again
Well I hate to say it, but this weekend didn't seem to go as I planned. I ended up pulling across the finish line in second place. Though I expected much more of myself, I still feel as though I did well. The weather change from Memphis to Houston really had a big effect on my warm-up session; causing me to be more loose than I am use to being. The looseness had a major effect on my block starts, causing me to be the last out in both the prelims and in the finals. Even with the bad block starts I was able to pull up and beat everyone but the one guy who beat me. It was kind of weird because this kid has been trying to beat me for the last three years now and I guess he finally got what he wanted. I think I was expected to be the victor in the race and was sorry to have disappointed the audience, but my opponent gave me a good race and there is no reason to cry about it.
One thing I did learn this past weekend is that I have great turn over speed and I almost used it to catch up with the other guy. This is how I know that the 110 hurdles come outdoor season will most definitely be mine. Not only am I working towards bringing home the gold in the 110's but I also have my eyes on the 400 hurdles as well. It seems that everyone who has been able to beat me in the past has moved on so the only thing I have to worry about now is keeping the new freshman in my dust trail. If I can pull all of this off, I just may be bringing home "two" gold metals come outdoor conference and possibly even the "most points scored" trophy. I am also looking to become a factor in the open 400 meters, which is a race I have never competed in before.
February 28, 2008
Mr. Amaechi checking in
It's been a long four years for me. Never even thought I'd make it this far in track & field. I came in as a walk-on basically to stay in shape so that I could go out for football the next season and ended up getting stuck. I don't really regret it because I came a long way. I can still remember my freshman year coming on to the team and how many of us it was in my class. Now it is cut down to just two of us; myself and Sam James. One of the biggest things that always clouded my mind running collegiate track was, "Am I good enough to ever place top three and win any medals?" Well that question was quickly answered when I, out of nowhere, placed second in the 400m hurdles at outdoor conference my sophomore year. This was a surprise to both me and the rest of the team as it opened my eyes to understanding how capable I was of doing well in the sport. Going into my junior year I ended the indoor season with third place in the 60m hurdles, which had been one of my weakest races up until then. Then the biggest shocker came when I pulled through to get first in the 110 hurdles during outdoor conference. After I pulled that off I knew that I was going to have to step my game up because I knew that the other coaches from the other schools were going to do their best to make sure that didn't happen again.
So now we're in my senior year and getting ready for the 2008 Indoor Championship and things have been pretty smooth for me so far. I knew that my first obstacle for this season was going to be stepping up and being a leader to the young freshmen coming in. Because a majority of our team is freshmen, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Since I've always liked to take up the leader roll it wasn't hard for me to step up. Of course the freshman don't pay me any mind when I'm talking, but I know that at the end of the day everything that came out of my mouth will have some sort of impact on their thinking and maybe even change their minds. I hate to be leaving them so quickly because I know that there won't be many seniors next year to take my place and guide them. Hopefully this young program will pull all the way through to establish a strong dynasty for the future of U of Memphis track & field.
I started off the indoor season running an 8.26 in the 60's. After running that, I knew that it was going to be over at conference, because that time is just about where I ended last year. Though that time has me ranked at fourth in conference tied with Chris Bell from ECU, what the rest of them don't know is that I've actually ran the fastest time out of anyone in our conference. A few weeks ago I took a road trip along with a three other of my teammates to the TSU Invite where I blazed an 8.09 in the 60's. Of course no one knows about this because of the fact that I ran unattached at the meet and the time does not count towards conference rankings. I've just been taking it easy at practice and doing my best to perfect my form over and between those hurdles in order to get the results I'm aiming for this weekend.