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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 81 Coaches had to write a distance themselves, then make Carson sign it. Now, a year-and-a-half later, the simplicity of the pro- jection seems ridiculous, as Carson has built herself into one of the nation's elite long jumpers. At the Louisville Invitational April 15, Carson broke her own school record and set the country's second-best mark, jumping 6.66 meters (21 feet, 10.25 inches). A few days later, the Naperville, Ill., native was named the Big Ten's Field Athlete of the Week for the second time in a three-week span. In only a month, Carson added about 16 centimeters (more than six inches) in length to her jumps, going from 6.48 meters at the NCAA indoor championships in March, when she finished fifth after being first at February's Big Ten meet, to 6.54 at the Texas Relays to open the outdoor season to the 6.66 in Louisville. "It has been amazing," assistant coach Angela Elliott said. "… We always knew she could jump really far, it was just a matter of getting her to set it up. She's so elas- tic, just has so much power without having to work at it. Some people are really gifted. She has a lot of natural spring and speed." But Carson didn't have a lot of refined technique. She still doesn't, she says, particularly on a landing that's more human cannonball than human dart, but there've been significant improvements. "I'm just a wild jumper," Carson said. "Sometimes, I land in the sand all crazy. I'm working on my landing still; shoot, I'm still working on my jumping. "I have a long way to go, but there's been a lot of prog- ress this year as well. It's encouraging, definitely." A major change helped. In her first couple years at Purdue, Carson's time was spent rotating between assistant coaches, because she's also a sprinter. Then, Carson worked on long jumps with Purdue jumps coach Chris Huffins, then headed over to sprint workouts, but she had to do the latter without teammates because they'd frequently already finished. It was a time-consuming schedule that didn't benefit Carson in either discipline. So before last season, Carson started working under Norbert Elliott, Purdue's associate head coach, and Ange- la Elliott, the two primary sprint assistants. They'd coach her in the 100 meters and as part of the Boilermakers' championship 4x100-relay team, and on the long jump, as well. And it's worked. "We literally started her from the beginning, started her from scratch, 'OK, erase everything you've ever done in life and let's break it down,' " Angela Elliott said. " 'Let's work on the first part of your run, pushing off the back, work on getting tall, taking off the board.' It's really about setting up the jump, so we taught her how to set up the jump. Then, it's how you land in the sand, and we work on that part too. "… And once she saw (improvement, she thought), Embracing It All Savannah Carson is a champion sprinter, having run the anchor of Purdue's Big Ten title team in the 4x100 relay and finishing second in the league in the 100-meter dash last season. But it's taken the long jumper a while to embrace that she's a sprinter, as well. Now, when anyone asks in which events she competes, the junior says the 100 meters, the 4x100 and long jump. "I used to deny the sprinting aspect of it," she said. "When we'd stand up and introduce ourselves, I'd be like, 'I'm a jumper' and I'd sit down. (Coaches) would look at me like, 'Stand back up, you're not done.' And I've had to say, 'Oh yeah, I'm a sprinter, too.' "But now I say both." The two events tie together, per assistant Angela El- liott. "In her mind she's always been a long jumper," El- liott said. "But in our mind, it was like, 'You can sprint equally well.' A lot of it is cultivating both, the sprinting and jumping. And long jump is 90-percent sprinting, being able to come down the runway and teaching how to convert that speed off the board. Putting those two together is what you're seeing now." — Kyle Charters

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