When senior Sean Choate read the numbers 15:29.06 on the scoreboard at Monmouth College’s Midwest Invite on Saturday, Jan 19., there was only one thought on his mind.
“I was ecstatic,” Choate said.
Choate’s time had not only beaten his previous best in the 5K by an 33.76 seconds, but also the Knox men’s indoor 5K record that had stood for 25 years.
“Based off my training, I knew I was going to do better than my previous best, and breaking that record was definitely something I have been looking at doing since I was a freshman. It was a huge relief,” he said.
According to head coach Jason Haynes, Choate’s radical improvement was reflective of a body of work that included solid seasons in outdoor track last spring and cross country this past fall.
“He ran a time that was fairly close to what he ran in the outdoor season last spring but he still made a substantial improvement from [May 2012 to January 2013],” Haynes said.
Haynes also mentioned how improved Choate has become in the training and practice portions of the sport.
“I think he is a much smarter runner now. He knows his body and the types of training [that works best]. Earlier he would over-train. Now, he knows his strengths,” Haynes said.
According to Choate, the passion for running was always there, but only recently did he perfect his training routines.
“When I was younger I would run on pure passion. I never ran or trained in the right way. This summer I learned to run consistently but sometimes dial it back so I can peak at the right time,” Choate said. “Last year I was not in as good of shape as I wanted to be. Coming off a great cross country season [in the fall], I took the right amount of time off and then dialed up the mileage.”
As the new record holder in the 5K, Choate still has plenty of goals left to achieve this season.
“I’m hoping to get the 3K record, but my main goal is to continue to drop times and to place top-three in the Midwest Conference in both [the 5K and the 3K],” he said.
Choate was not the only record breaker at the event, as for the second week in a row senior Joseph Puntoriero broke a sprint record. This time, Puntoriero took down the mark for the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.77 breaking the previous best time of 22.87 set in 1999.
“[The record breaking results] reflect well on our seniors,” Haynes said. “This is the first group of seniors that I have seen [the span of their entire careers]. They know my expectations of what they need to be doing in the offseason and they have now taken it upon themselves to lead this team.”
Choate knows his role as a leader despite the fact he does not consider himself a vocal person.
“My training partner [Victor Schultz] is a freshman, so I try to show him the right ways to go because I don’t want him to make the same mistakes I did as a freshman. I’m not much of a vocal leader so I try to do things by example,” he said.
Haynes also noted that the leadership has gone beyond the results on the track.
“Due to some of our athlete schedules sometimes we start practice with a group of sprinters that are just freshman, but I didn’t have to worry about organizing them because the seniors have done such a good job preparing them of what to expect,” Haynes said.
While they did not set school records, senior throwers Paul Lebryk and Dan Johnson each had their best career performances in the weight throw with throws of 43 feet, nine and three quarter inches and 43 feet, eight and a half inches respectively.
Freshmen Lizzy Reyes and Grace Neubauer each improved on their best times in the mile finishing the race in 6:08.63 and 6:11.96 respectively.
Other top finishers for the Prairie Fire were senior Lizzy Warner in the women’s 800 meter run and junior Westin Chenowith in the men’s shot put.