Wednesday, September 13, 2017
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
All of the accomplishments she achieved in her comeback season in 2017 were packaged in a huge collection of awards that women’s 100m hurdler Devynne Charlton received at the Purdue University Boilermakers’ team banquet.
The event was held on Sunday and Charlton was presented with more than a dozen hardware, including championship rings and plaques from Purdue University and the Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Conference.
“It felt pretty good, especially being awarded in the entire Big Ten as the Athlete of the Year in track and field,” she told The Tribune. “It could have been awarded to anybody, but it turned out that I was the one, so it felt really good. That was what made it so special.”
In a remarkable comeback season that ended with her debut on the global scene at the 16th IAAF World Championships in London, England, Charlton said she didn’t realize all that she had achieved a couple months or even weeks ago until it was listed at the banquet.
“After what I achieved this year, I’m now looking forward to next year,” she insisted. “There are some records that I didn’t break that I will be going after and there are some accomplishments that I didn’t accomplish this year, so I still feel I have a lot of room for improvement.”
One of her major goal is to break the Big Ten Conference record in the 100m hurdles, a feat she did this year, but the time was not official as it was wind aided. Another goal is to complete her collegiate career with her first NCAA Outdoor Championships title.
The 21-year-old 5-feet, 3-inches graduate of St Augustine’s College said after the ceremony, she went to her dorm and picked up her book to complete a homework assignment in her studies towards her major in fisheries and aquatic sciences. She will officially begin training
Head coach Rolando ‘Lonnie’ Greene could hardly mince his words when he described what it was like to watch Charlton pick up the awards one after the other.
“We gave out the Coaches’ awards that we vote on, the Big Ten awards and we honored her for winning Athlete of the Year indoors and outdoors,” Greene said. “She walked away with so many awards that I think we needed a box to carry all of them.
“If you had seen her, literally, I think I had to ask someone to help her because there were so many awards, including some nice ones from the Big Ten that she could hang up in her office or home when she’s completely done.”
Greene, one of two Bahamian coaches at Purdue, said during his speech at the banquet, he mentioned that he knew Charlton had a chance to turn pro, but he was delighted that she decided to return to finish of her senior outdoor season for the Boilermakers.
“A kid like her, you really wish that she would have another four years of eligibility,” said Greene, who is assisted by Norbert Elliott in the Bahamian connection that includes sprinter Carmiesha Cox and Keanu Pennerman and quarter-miler Kinard Rolle.
“They just make your job that much easier. She’s so special. She has a gift that I believe in my heart that she’s just scratching the surface. I believe in my humble opinion, the national record could go to at least 13.4.”
Greene said it’s the humility that has brought out the best in her.
After going down with an injury last year at the end of the indoor season, Charlton was forced to sit out the outdoor season and skip the trip to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This year, she was back with vengeance as she won five Big Ten titles and earned four All-America honors, including three first-team nods, during her incredible fourth year on campus.
During the indoor season, Charlton was named the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships after finishing runner-up at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter hurdles and claiming conference crowns in the hurdles and 60-meter dash.
Charlton added a silver medal performance in the 200-meter dash at indoor Big Tens to bring her meet total to 28 of Purdue’s 94 points, where the Boilermakers finished second as a team.
She earned first team All-America honors with her second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles, with a Bahamian national record time, and was a second team All-American in the 60-meter dash after placing 16th.
For the outdoor season, Charlton was named the Great Lakes Track Athlete of the Year and Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships with an opportunity to earn the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year later this week. She earned first team All-America honors individually in the 100-meter hurdles after placing fifth at the NCAA Championships over the weekend. At the same meet, she was a first team All-American after running the lead leg of the seventh place 4x100-meter relay team.
Charlton was the Big Ten champion in both events, as well as the 100-meter dash, and scored 26.5 of Purdue’s 133 points to lead the team to its first outdoor Big Ten title since 1999.
She broke the school record in the 60-meter hurdles (7.93 seconds), 60-meter dash (7.26 seconds), 100-meter dash (11.31 seconds), 100-meter hurdles (12.74 seconds) and as a member of the shuttle hurdle relay team (53.85 seconds) across both seasons.
To add to her resume, Charlton also ran the No. 2 time in school history in the indoor 200-meter dash (23.53 seconds). She was twice named the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week, with one indoors and one outdoors.
At the Drake Relays, she competed in the Rio Rematch 100-meter hurdles race and finished ahead of three Olympic finalists, including the bronze medalist.
Charlton was one of the main reasons the women earned their highest in-season rankings in program history indoors (12th) and outdoors (14th). She scored eight of the teams 12 points at the NCAA Indoor Championships to lead the women’s team to a 14th-place finish, the second-highest placing in program history.
Outdoors, she scored four of the team’s 10 points to lead the team to a 21st-place finish, the fifth-highest in program history and she earned Purdue’s Female Athlete of the Year award for the second time in her career.
Charlton, who ran in the semifinal of the women’s 100m hurdles and on the first leg of the women’s 4 x 100m relay in the heats at the Olympics, was previously voted the winner in 2015. She is the first woman to earn the honor twice in her career since golfer Maria Hernandez was the back-to-back winner in 2008 and 2009.
To top it of, the second of three daughters to respective track and field executive and coach Laura and Dave Charlton, was the third track woman in school history to be named female athlete of the year twice in her career and the first since Corissa Yasen in 1995 and 1996. Jamie McNeair is the only other female track athlete to earn it twice, doing so in 1989 and 1990.
As they prepare for 2018, Greene said he’s looking for Charlton to surpass what she does in her final outdoor season. He said while she’s not eligible for the indoor season, she will travel to the Boilermakers and compete unattached in her bid to get ready for the IAAF World Indoor Championships from March 2-4 at the Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
The Boilermakers will compete in a meet in December to test where they are coming of their off-season training before taking a break for Christmas, only to return to start their indoor season on January 13.
At that time, Greene said Cox will begin the process of completing her eligibility for Purdue. Both Pennerman and Rolle will continue their appearances for the Boilermakers on the men’s side as juniors.