After dealing with a nagging hip injury for some time, the Eastern College Athletic Conference track and field Championship was the last thing senior Ambrosia Iwugo was thinking about when she got in the starting blocks of the 500m finals at the Rutgers’s Invitational on Jan. 10th.
Yet, when the gun went off, Iwugo exploded out of the starting blocks, leaving her competitors behind as she crossed the finish line first.
“I qualified in an event that I didn’t expect myself to qualify in for the [ECAC],” Iwugo said.
After opening the year with a win and in turn qualifying for the ECAC championships in March, Iwugo had to sit out of the next two track and field competitions because of a hip strain.
“I think it’s associated with some muscle weakness,” Iwugo said. “Just a lot of wear and tear on my hip area so now I am out trying to rehab it.”
Nevertheless, Iwugo will not be out for too long as she as well as her coaching staff expects her to return to the track this week after she is cleared by the doctors. When she does return, Iwugo has another goal in mind.
“I would like to qualify for the 400m,” Iwugo said “So hopefully when I get back I can qualify for that and I get to run that in the Eastern Conference Championship.”
If and when she does qualify, Iwugo said she wants to place within the Top 5 for the ECAC in the 400m and “at least run anything faster than 55, maybe 54 seconds.” Last year, in the 2013 outdoor season, Iwugo was able to run 55.61 in the Miami Hurricane Alumni Invitational. Now she hopes to have that same success for this indoor season.
“We are in a new conference, so I want to at least place within the Top 400 meter runners in the conference,” Iwugo said. “Even though it is going to be a lot more competitive and there is a lot of talent, I think I can take the challenge on.”
Coach Eric Mobley is confident that Iwugo’s two week layoff from competition will not interfere with her goals.
“As talented as she is, I think after she comes back she will be ready to go and progress to where she needs to be,” coach Eric Mobley said.
“During practices she goes out there and she just goes after it,” Mobley added. “She is always in the [mindset] of working hard. She just pushes herself to get better. [So] when she comes back she will be ready to go.”
In an effort to get back up to speed with her other competitors, she hopes to compete in some of the sprints to improve in the 400m.
“I don’t really get to decide [which events] I will compete in [but] as a 400m runner I probably need to get some speed work in so [the coaching staff] will drop me down to the 60m dash and the 200m and then I will run the 400m later on.”
Iwugo is very much accustomed to the sprint events. The 400m specialist said she has spent her last 3 years at Temple competing in the 60m, 100m and 200m dash. Although she was quick to point out that the 200m was not her “specialty.”
“I prefer the really, really quick sprints,” Iwugo said.
In both the indoor and outdoor seasons last year, Iwugo improved her personal records in most of her sprint and middle distance races. In the indoor season, Iwugo, a Maryland native, posted personal bests in the 60m, 300m and 500m dash. In the outdoor season, Iwugo set better times in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m races.
With such a performance last year, she was able to help her team with a second place finish in the 4x100m relay at the Atlantic 10 Championship.
Looking back over her collegiate career, Iwugo believes her sophomore and junior year was her most successful at Temple.
“For my sophomore year, I placed second at Conferences in 400m and I had a personal record that year for 54 seconds and we also ran a 4×400 dash and made it back to the finals of the ECAC and we had a personal best of 3:39,” Iwugo said. “Last year, I ran 1:13 in the 500 m and that was a lifetime PR for me. The 300m, I ran 39 seconds and that is also a college PR for me and just to be a part of the team, those are my biggest accomplishment.”
Iwugo still hopes to accomplish a whole lot more in the last year of her collegiate career.
“I’m injured so I will have to work twice as hard or even four times as hard to just get back to myself and then to better myself but I have to make it to Regional’s or the National level this year since it’s my final year.”
Danielle Nelson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Dan_Nels.