Janell Dutchess, a junior on the track and field team earned athlete of the week honors for her performances in three events at the 2009 Geneseo Track and Field Open from April 25 and 26.
Dutchess began the day by running the third leg of the ECAC qualifying 4×100 relay team, helping the team run the fastest relay time in six years (50.95 seconds). She then qualified for the SUNYAC championship meet in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.99 seconds. The most impressive performance by Dutchess at the meet however, was her 24.86 meter javelin throw. The throw was a 3.01-meter personal record for Dutchess.
Dutchess first started running track and field in seventh grade.
"I got into it because during soccer all my friends that I made that were in eigth grade did track," Dutchess said. "I was supposed to play softball and I did, but I just felt like I was doing more with track."
Dutchess had a very successful high school career and cited a trip to the Junior Olympics as her greatest accomplishment in the sport.
"I went to the Junior Olympics for the 100-meter open and the 4×100. My 4×100 made it to the final meet in New Hampshire and we received medals," Dutchess said.
For many track athletes, the transition from high school to college can be very difficult. Many often find that they can never quite match their best high school performances. Dutchess has also experienced these problems to a certain extent, due to injury.
"For the most part, my times have gotten better in the longer distance runs," Dutchess said. "My sprint times in the shorter distances have gotten slower, but that is more of the knee problem I have from breaking it my senior year of high school."
One event that high school does not offer is the javelin, so Dutchess has practiced the skill in less than two years. She insisted that she doesn’t have a special skill, despite setting a new personal record in almost every meet this year. "I don’t have a secret, but I wish I did," Dutchess said. "This past weekend my parents came and it was their first college career track meet, so I just wanted to show off."
First-year head track and field coach, Andrew Hunsinger put in a lot of time and effort to help Dutchess improve dramatically in the event.
"Coach Andrew helped a lot with my javelin," Dutchess said. "He taught me how to throw. He is a good guy and a good coach."
Dutchess credited her parents as having the biggest impact on her track career.
"My parents are my greatest form of motivation. I always want to be the one that makes them happy and impressed by what I can accomplish," Dutchess said. "They are never negative about track and always have positive reinforcement."
Those who don’t think that track and field is a team sport can perhaps be persuaded by Dutchess’ argument.
"I definitely do [think track’s a team sport] because there are certain events that you run with three other people," Dutchess said. "Mentally it is just you and the people you are racing, but I feel it is very team-orientated because you watch everyone compete and cheer them on just as you would for another team sport."
As for the rest of the season, Dutchess is looking to compete on the 4×100 relay team at the ECAC championship and do well. She also hopes to improve on this year’s performances and set new personal records next year.