Brandon’s DeLohnni Nicol-Samuel is determined to make his fourth season his best yet at Campbell University. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
DeLohnni Nicol-Samuel doesn’t know if his fourth year of track at Campbell University will be his last or not, but either way he wants to make it his best.
The 21-year-old accounting major from Brandon had early success running for the Fighting Camels, making the NCAA regionals in cross-country, but his athletic career has stalled since then.
Nicol-Samuel missed the indoor track season as a sophomore due to injury, prompting his coach to consider seeking a medical redshirt that could bring him back for a fifth year. In his junior year, Nicol-Samuel was unable to reach the times he’d become accustomed to, but a new school year has arrived with fresh optimism.
"It looks like I’ll be doing cross-country so for that my goal is to make first-team all-conference and then just run some personal bests, try and run some quick times," Nicol-Samuel said. "If I do run outdoors, it’s the same thing, I want to really start making some progress on my times because I’ve kinda been stuck for the last couple of years. We have a new coach now, so things are really looking up."
The former provincial high school 1,500- and 3,000-metre champion from Vincent Massey felt his cross-country season at the Buies Creek, N.C., school started well last year before the coach at the time asked him to ease off his pace in training. It was a tactic that Nicol-Samuel didn’t quite understand and he said his times suffered for the rest of the season.
"I think it was more so he didn’t want me to get injured or something," Nicol-Samuel said. "I’m not too sure, he didn’t actually give me an explanation as to why. It was just kinda ‘Just do it and don’t argue,’ pretty much. I’d rather just try and go fast. I feel the way I’ve trained in high school is you practise fast and it will turn over in races. I was used to in high school (training at a) faster pace than what you would actually do in a race so once you run your race pace, it feels slower and it just feels more comfortable."
Nicol-Samuel said his new coach has introduced more intense workouts and has also gotten him running the steeplechase, an event he had done only sparingly previously. Steeplechase adds barriers and a water pit for the racers to jump over and Nicol-Samuel said he’s enjoyed the variety it adds to the race.
"It’s pretty nice because it’s something more than just running," he said. "There’s another objective and it puts different things into play. Someone may be faster, but if another person has a better technique going over those barriers, they can make up time, so I guess it makes the race more interesting."
Nicol-Samuel said he and his coach are looking at several options for races this year and he could end up trying a variety before narrowing his focus later in the season.
"The coach said he was looking at, really I guess he was training me for anything — 1,500, 5k, 3k steeplechase or 10k, whatever it looks like I have a better shot of making (the regional standard)," he said.
"(The goal is) definitely to go to regionals. If everything goes right, it’s possible I could even get out of regionals maybe even make NCAAs. That’s if everything just goes well."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 5, 2012