The progress hurdler Connor Schulman has made from last year to this year has been dramatic.
The Rice Consolidated High School graduate won the 60-meter hurdles in Texas A & M University’s first three indoor track and field meets and finished fifth in one.
His best finish as a freshman last year was fourth, and he did not break 8 seconds. The sophomore finished in a career-best time of 7.80 in winning the 60 hurdles at this season’s third meet.
“He’s a very, very aggressive, fierce competitor,” said Brandon Hon, Texas A & M assistant coach. “He believes in himself. He doesn’t back down.”
Schulman’s fifth place in the Feb. 6 Charlie Thomas Invitational was indicative of the field. “That whole field was a lot stronger than I raced before,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher of a crowd.”
He attributed his rapid improvement to the repetitions of hurdling. “I worked on getting better at what I had,” he said. “This year I couldn’t have imagined me running this well.”
He worked to control his arms, keep them from flailing when he was over the hurdle. “Smaller objects move through space faster,” Hon said. “He wants to be small when he’s airborne. A lot of people want to bounce themselves when they’re airborne.”
He also worked on being more explosive in his start. “It’s just to set up the race better,” Schulman said. “My first couple of steps weren’t powerful enough to get me to where I need to be.”
He covers 13.7 meters in seven steps, Hon said, while most hurdlers take eight steps. “He takes a very aggressive stride,” the coach said. “He can actually sprint to hurdle one.”
Hon said Schulman couldn’t cover that ground well last year but is doing so this season. “His character and his attitude are a big part of why he’s doing so well,” he said, noting that Schulman reviews a lot of film and often asks questions. “It tells me he’s studying. He’s really grown up very, very quick in the sport.”
Because of his gains, Hon is going to be conservative in planning his in door path. He is going to have him specialize in the hurdles only because he said, “I don’t want to risk all the progress he has made.”
During the outdoor season, though, he said he will run the open 100- and 200-meter races and be a part of the 4-by-100 relay.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org.