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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5

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Page 83 of 92

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED OLUME 26, ISSUE 5 84 during that in-home, drawn to Greene's confidence and vision for the Boilermakers. "He said we're a newer program but we're really work- ing on making this program into something that people have to compete with," she said. "He is a great speaker. I was mesmerized, like, 'OK, I'm ready to sign.'" Black has been a part, a big part, of that rebuilding pro- cess. And it didn't take her long to do so. As a freshman last year, she was Big Ten champion in the 400-meter hur- dles outdoors with a school-record time of 56.76 seconds; she ran the lead leg for the 4x400 relay team that finished fourth in the country, making her one of only 19 freshmen nationally (with Thomas) to earn All-America honors; she was Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Year for the indoor season after finishing runner-up in the 400. This indoor season, she and Thomas teamed to help Purdue win the 4x400, running the third and anchor legs, respectively. And she was fourth as an individual in the 400. It was that win in the 400 hurdles last spring that showed Black had something more, not only a talent but a drive to be great. Black wasn't the favorite, as Ohio State's Alexis Franklin, a junior All-American, was expected to win. But Thomas prevailed, outsprinting Franklin to the finish, win- ning by only 0.02 of a second. "Symone is the silent assassin," Greene said. "She is one of those athletes that all you have to do is give her instructions: 'This is what you need to do.' "At the Big Ten outdoor championship, (Franklin) was the favorite, but I said, 'You can do this.' She looks at you, with those 4-year-old eyes and baby face, and I said, 'You have to pick her up in the first 150 then get off the accel- erator and wait for the last 100.' And she did exactly that. "If you were able to see that race, they came off the 10th (last) hurdle foot-to-foot. And here's an All-American run- ning (vs.) a freshman, and Symone found something that was just phenomenal." THOMAS, TOO Although Symone Black and Brionna Thomas had been teammates for the Express since the sixth grade, they nev- er devised a plan to run at the same college. If they ended up together, great, and if they didn't, that was OK, too. But once Black committed, and felt such a strong pull to the Boilermakers, she tried to nudge her friend into at least checking Purdue out. "At first, I wasn't considering Purdue," Thomas said, "but Symone was like, 'Go to Purdue.' So me and (fellow Fort Wayne native) Dejah (Arnold) decided to come (visit) and I liked it. Dejah didn't commit (and ended up at N.C. State). But it was close to home and Symone was coming here, so I already knew someone." And so Thomas forgot about K-State and all the others and instead chose the Boilermakers, joining Thomas and Greene, drawn in by the latter's ability to motivate. "He pushed that Purdue was up-and-coming," she said. "A lot." Thomas made a splash as a rookie last season, running the anchor legs of the Big Ten title-winning 4x100 team and third-place 4x400 team in the indoor season. And she was on the 4x400 team that finished fourth in the country When I say "good," you say "neighbor." P097313.1 State Farm, Home Office, Bloomington, IL Call me for your insurance needs and see how it feels to be on a #1 team. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. ® CALL ME TODAY. Now that's teamwork. Trent B Johnson, Agent 249 E State Street West Lafayette, IN 47906 Bus: 765-743-9595

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