Marcus Chambers strives for elusive NCAA title
Marcus Chambers’ 2016 season began and ended in disappointment.
After failing to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, Chambers managed to defend his Pac-12 title in the 400 meter dash, but dropped to fourth place at the NCAA outdoor championships.
The performance was a step back from his second place finish in 2015 and left him wondering what could have been.
“Coming off of last year — seeing how I was injured and then I had struggles all indoor season and all fall, and then I still was able to take fourth outdoor — it made me really realize if I had a whole, successful year this year with no injuries, what could I do?” Chambers said. “I feel like I could do something great this year.”
With this in mind and entering his final season as a Duck, Chambers is working to avoid the same disappointment he experienced last season, and is starting by attacking the indoor season with hopes that it will lead to success during his outdoor campaign.
Though the Ducks don’t begin championship competition until Feb. 24, Chambers is on track the best indoor season of his career. He is currently ranked 11th nationally in the 200 and 20th in the 400.
“This is his last indoor season,” head coach Robert Johnson. “You can definitely see the maturity there having been through this for three years and knowing what it takes to qualify and get to these meets.”
Earlier this winter, Chambers broke Oregon’s school record in the indoor 200 meter, which was previously held by Mike Berry, a former Duck whom Chambers cited as his mentor his freshman year.
While at Oregon, Berry and Chambers each ran legs of the 4×100 relay that placed second in the Pac-12 Championships in 2014, the year Berry graduated. Every day, the two trained together with Berry acting as a coach to Chambers.
Not only were Chambers’ own skills nurtured through their relationship, but Berry’s own times improved.
“It was nice to have someone there to push me,” said Berry.
Berry also had a hand in recruiting Chambers to Oregon in the first place. The two grew up in the same area of Tacoma, Washington, with the same high school coach.
“I knew coming in he had a lot of talent and just wanted him to be a part of the Ducks,” said Berry. “If anyone was to break my record, I would definitely want it to be Marcus.”
After the race, Chambers told reporters that it was nice to hit a personal record; his sophomore year was the last time he achieved a lifetime best for indoors.
“I’m just trying use what I did today as momentum going forward,” he said.
He also said the record showed him that his fall training had gone well, but this was not the first time he referenced his fall training as a factor of his success.
After admitting that he has never had a great indoor season in a media session prior to the UW Indoor Preview, Chambers told reporters that this fall was the best fall he had ever had.
In the past, he had been nursing injuries during the fall, making his training less productive than it could have been had he been healthy. This year, however, in order to take advantage of his good health, Chambers made the decision to train with a friend in the warm climate of Arizona as opposed to staying in Washington.
“I’ve never really gotten good training back home,” Chambers said. “When you train in the cold, it’s just not going to be as effective.”
With more effective training than he had before, Chambers is in better shape than he was last year. Because of that, Chambers’ indoor season has been filled with individual event wins, and with indoors acting as a precursor to outdoors, it may guide him to that elusive NCAA title.
“I’m just trying to keep momentum going meet-by-meet, take everything as a stepping stone, and then we’ll see what happens at the end of the year,” Chambers said.
Follow Hannah Bonnie on Twitter @hbonnie03
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