Skys the limit for seven-time gold medalist Carpenter
Posted: 06/26/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Ken Fox
Click here to view in a gallery.
Earlier this spring, the recent Westview High School graduate won three state titles at the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Finals in Bloomington. The wins came in the long jump, 100-meter high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles — the same events she won in 2010. The titles gave Carpenter seven gold medals in her high school track career.
A week later, she competed in the Midwest Meet of Champions, involving the top track and field athletes from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. She won the long jump and finished second in the 300 hurdles.
Carpenter has also won three prestigious awards in the past month, the biggest coming this week when she was named the Gatorade Indiana Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, which combines outstanding athletic achievement with academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track.
She is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award, which will be announced later this month.
Carpenter was also named Ms. Track and Field for 2012 by the Indiana Association of Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches, and was honored at the State Finals as the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner.
Now taking a little time to relax before heading to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., in the fall, Carpenter is able to look back at her accomplishments with a little sense of wonder.
“I really don’t think everything has sunk in yet,” Carpenter admitted. “When you include graduation, everything has happened really fast in the past month, which makes this time to myself even nicer.”
Just listing Carpenter’s accomplisments as a senior can make the Engergizer Bunny feel worn down.
In addition to her performance this spring, Carpenter earned All-State honors in soccer for Westview. She led the Warrior basketball team in scoring at more than 16 points a game. She also volunteers with an elementary school reading program and with the area Boys & Girls Club.
Oh, and she carried a 4.05 grade-point average.
Carpenter credits part of her success to facing top competition the last two summers at the AAU Junior Olympic competition. She competed in Virginia in 2010 and Kansas in 2011.
“It gave me the opportunity to run against some of the best athletes in the country,” Carpenter said. “Not only was I able to judge where I am, but when I did have some success, it gave me confidence coming into my high school season.”
After winning three events in 2010 and leading Westview to a third-place finish in the team competition, Carpenter entered this season’s State Finals with plenty of attention from the competition.
But while admitting there was more pressure this year, Carpenter attacked right from the start, posting her eventual winning jump in the long jump competition (18-10 1/2) on her first attempt.
“I’ve always liked to really have a great first jump and then see if someone can beat it,” Carpenter said. “The competition was really tough in all three of my events this year and I know everyone wanted to beat me, but I still had a great time competing. It really was a lot of fun.”
Carpenter would go on to win the 100 high hurdles in a time of 15.13 and the 300 hurdles at 42.2. It was her third straight state championship in the 300 hurdles — which included setting a State Finals record time as a junior (42.03).
Carpenter chose Vanderbilt last fall, picking the Southeastern Conference school over Stanford and Indiana.
While it will give her a chance to compete against some of the best college athletes in the country, Vanderbilt’s academic reputation was a big draw for Carpenter, who hopes to go to medical school and eventually work with children.
“Obviously, it’s a great academic school, one of the best in the country,” Carpenter said. “Plus, there is a university hospital on campus, which was also a real plus. It just had everything I was looking for.”
With the Olympic games starting in London in less than a month, Carpenter admits she’ll be watching. But with her usual honesty and modesty, Carpenter won’t say competing against the world’s best is a goal.
“I didn’t enter high school hoping to win seven titles. I really just tried to take things one year and one sport at a time,” Carpenter said. “This fall I’ll be a freshman again and I don’t plan on looking ahead too far. I’m just hoping to get better and then we’ll see where it takes me.”