Shakiel Chattoo wins individual heptathlon title

Freshman Shakiel Chattoo earned his first NCAA Division II National Championship win in the heptathlon, and senior Amber Panapa took fourth place in the weight throws with her All-American performance in Kansas at the National Indoor Championship.

Chattoo ran his season’s best 60-meter hurdle in 7.95 seconds and led the first place position in the 60-meter dash at 6.84 seconds, but describes his experience at nationals as “easy going.” Not saying that the competition was too easy, Chattoo explains that it took at lot of hard work and dedication, but he was prepared and knew what he was there to do.

“The hardest challenge was when I failed on two attempts on my opening high jump. I panicked a little, but my coach talked to me, I re-evaluated myself and then I cleared on my third attempt,” Chattoo said.

Chattoo gives credit to the people and coaches around him who instilled an extrinsic motivation that highlights and reinforces the internal motivation he has for himself.

“The journey is started. I’ve covered one already and this is just the start,” Chattoo said. He is not only competing for himself, but for his family members back home in Jamaica.

“All my brothers have become successful, and I don’t want to be the bad seed. I want to make my mom proud. I have to do this for her; she has done so much for me,” Chattoo said.

Scoring 5,554 points during the indoor championship, Chattoo’s performance ranks as the seventh-best in Division II history, and the second consecutive win for the Cougars in the national Division II heptathlon. He was just 52 points away from APU’s Justin Balczak’s winning score from last year.

Amber Panapa is also proud of her performance at nationals, coming in fourth place for the second year in a row.

“It was my last indoor meet and my last time to perform. [I was] trying to focus on technique and the training I’ve been doing for the past four months, but at the same time, it’s my very last time to compete. I’m currently 4 1/2 inches from the school record, and I didn’t get it,” Panapa said.

In 2015, Panapa qualified in ninth place and finished in fourth. This year, she qualified in seventh and finished in fourth again.

Even though Panapa did not break the school record, she celebrated with her teammates and enjoyed all of her accomplishments.

“We call her a gamer, because you just know that Amber is going to show up to compete…she is the type of athlete that is really tough to come by, so you just kind of enjoy that moment when you get it. I’m extremely proud of her, but I had a feeling that that’s what she was going to do,” Track and Field Director Mike Barnett said.

Barnett works closely with Panapa as her throws coach, and they both identify that the coaching style of not weighing the athletes with expectations and pressures has made Azusa Pacific’s stand out from the competition.

“What we do better than anyone is not what happens on the track. It’s how we care about the athlete off the track. It’s about that character building, so we are fairly confident that by not putting those winning-type pressures on them, we focus on who [they] are,” Barnett explained. “Are you a great teammate, friend, brother, or sister? We help them gain control of their outside life, and they bring success to the track—It’s proven.”

The coaches also make sure that the athletes are well prepared going into events, by making sure they have full confidence knowing that they prepared and they can take the win.

“We are competing with the best athletes in our event, but it is really just another meet, and nothing makes this different. You’re still going to go in there and throw, you’re still going to go out there and run, we’ve trained for this, so now it is time to shine,” Panapa said.

Seven Cougar athletes competed in the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field National Championships. Barnett said that it was a win for the entire team.

Cougar men Chattoo, freshman Corey Reid, and junior Miles Pollard, qualified third, ninth, and 16th for the National Championship meet and improved to first, ninth and tenth respectively at the met.

The Cougars first meet of the outdoor season is the Aztec invitational at San Diego State on March 25-26.