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Eckert off to a great start in the indoor season

BY MARIO WILLIAMS | FEBRUARY 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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For many heptathletes, it may be arduous to not only compete in a number of events but also make a mark in those events. For Jack Eckert, this wasn’t a complication.  

The Sellersburg, Indiana, native competed in the men’s heptathlon at the Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Feb 6-7. He finished fourth in the competition, snaring 5,172 points. Additionally, his mark now ranks third in school history and fourth in the Big Ten this season. In nearly every event, Eckert achieved a personal best, and if he didn’t post a personal best, he snagged a season best.

The senior described his feat as a starting point for what’s to come this season.

“This was a really good indicator that we’re on pace to do really big things at the Big Ten meet,” he said. “It’s a really good steppingstone for where we are at this point of the season.”

In past seasons, Eckert has had trouble in the first three events of the men’s heptathlon — the 60, long jump, and shot put. He achieved personal bests in these events and said it was vital for the remainder of the competition.

“It has been awhile since I’ve ‘PR’d’ in those events,” he said. “It was really nice to get me going for the rest of meet.”

Training an athlete such as Eckert doesn’t come easy. The senior has to focus his attention on a number of events, unlike many other track Hawks. To lead him in the right direction, the senior has the guidance of Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody and multi-events coach Molly Jones.

The heptathlete tries to train for every event once per week and sometimes more than one event in one practice.

“When you practice for your events, and you do the technical things, you really have to focus, you can’t waste any time, and you really have to make sure you take away something from every practice,” Eckert said. “You can’t waste days and take days for granted.”

Eckert finds his two coaches’ communication key to training him to become a better athlete.

“They’re just on the same page all the time,” he said.

However, that wasn’t always the case. Eckert has had three different coaches in the span of four years. While this is Jones’ second season as Eckert’s coach, she believes the senior has developed some trust despite a few bumpy roads.

“He’s had a lot of trouble adjusting to a new coaching style every year,” Jones said. “The trust has helped a lot with him believing in himself and knowing what we’ve been doing has been working.”

Six of the seven events in the men’s heptathlon require much speed and power. With this, Jones tries to focus training Eckert just on that.

“We do a lot of jumping and a lot of technical work in every event,” she said.

The technique work mainly consists of running technique the multi-events coach believes will set Eckert and other athletes up for much success.

“We’ve been really working a lot on approach work, pure running, and running correctly,” she said. “Once you do that, you can set yourself up for a really good performance,” she said.

Woody noted Eckert’s performance in Lincoln, Nebraska was great, and he looks forward to see what’s to come.

“He’s on the verge of doing some big things,” Woody said. “We have a couple weeks to tune some things up, but he looks great.”

Follow @marioxwilliams on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa track and field team.


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