Jamaican freshman riding high into NCAA meet

Jamaican freshman Shakiel Chattoo, otherwise known as “Shak” by his teammates and coaches, is the next star in APU’s storied track and field history.

“I was competing at this high-ranked boys and girls championship, and Trevor Fulkerson, who is a coach here, was seeking recruits and stumbled upon me,” Chattoo said. “Now I’m here.

He uses his comedy and a good attitude to help him keep going.

“I like acting for people and giving jokes,” Chattoo said. “I’m a jovial person and like having fun energy around. Even though the workout may be hard at times, I have to push through and keep being my positive self.”

Chattoo performs in the decathlon for outdoor competition and has posted national top-10 times in the men’s 60-meter hurdles and long jump events.

He is a firm believer in team unity and success, and his favorite part about being on the team is all the hard work they do together. The Cougars are currently ranked 13th for the Indoor season.

“The team works together as one unit,” Chattoo explained. “We have the same goal, the same aspirations. We’re one dedicated team, and I love the unity because I’m coming from a team that is really united, so [I like] the fact that I’m at another school, a higher-ranked school, where there is also cohesiveness in the team.

“Unity is strength,” Chattoo continued. “Once you build with unity, you can conquer anything.”

Freshman sprinter Brandon Douglas admires Chattoo’s positive personality and work ethic.

“Aside being a great athlete, Shakiel brings out joy and laughter from everyone he talks to,” Douglas said. “He never lets success get to his head. He is a great competitor and an even better teammate. My favorite memories with Shak involve encouraging one another at practice and letting each other know that the sky is the limit.”

Douglas also revealed that Chattoo not only tells jokes, but also enjoys rapping, which reflects his likable personality.

“Shak has a well-humored passion for rapping,” Douglas said. “If you sit in on a practice, I’m sure you’ll hear a few rhymes from him here and there.”

Men’s track and field head coach Kevin Reid stated that Chattoo brings an energy and light to the team, and is just a fun guy to be around.

“He’s got a lot of joy, and [he] truly is thankful for the opportunity to be here and compete,” Reid said.

Chattoo explained that he keeps up this personality so he can help bring laughter and encouragement to his teammates, while also being himself.

“My happiness and positivity are the most stand-out things [about] me,” Chattoo explained. “I try to just be myself, be funny and just do what I can do to…to let [the team] know that I am here. I want my presence to be known. I want them to know that Shak is here, and [that] I can help them through whatever they are going through. I try and make the workout fun, because you don’t want the workout to [beat] you. You want to beat the workout.”

Coach Reid expressed his excitement about seeing Chattoo’s improvement as an athlete throughout the season.

“He’s improved so much; he’s been getting better and better these past few weeks and months leading up to the season,” Reid said. “I can’t wait to see him keep improving as the season continues.”

Earlier in the season, Chattoo scored 5,400 points in the heptathlon at the Division II Colorado School of Mines Invitational, which helped him earn automatic national championship qualification for the Indoor season.

The track and field team will compete at the Rossi Relays on Saturday, Feb. 27, before heading to Kansas for the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships in mid-March.