GREENCASTLE, Ind. – Salisbury University senior Delannie Spriggs (Owings, Md.) has been working to revamp the way he comes out of the blocks on his sprints. On Saturday all the hard work of perfecting his “jump start” paid off as he took a commanding lead in the 55-meter dash at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track National Championship meet and never looked back, becoming a national champion.
“I was saying, 'whoever gets out of the blocks faster and gets the first step is going to win,'” Spriggs said. “My main goal was to get out of the blocks. I didn’t want anybody around me; I just wanted to run across the finish line by myself.”
That’s just what he did as Spriggs covered the 55 meters in just 6.20 seconds, the fastest time in Division III this season, and the fastest Division III time ever run at the championship meet, topping the 6.22 second run by Stefan Mascoll of Cortland State University in 1999.
“I’ve been waiting for this since this time last year,” said Spriggs, who finished second in the 55-meter dash at the 2009 championship meet. “I knew I could win, I just had to stay healthy. I knew I had the potential to win.”
The championship, Salisbury’s third individual title in track and field and first in indoor, is even sweeter for Spriggs after all of the injuries he has been through. This is the first season in his collegiate career where he has stayed healthy, having dealt with a hernia, quadriceps injury, hip flexor problems and tendon issues in his knee in the last four years.
“I couldn’t be happier for Delannie,” Salisbury coach Jim Jones said. “All the injuries he’s been through in his career and then to set a national and track record, it’s beyond words. We’ve been through a lot the last four years. The faith that he has and we share and the belief he has in himself, I can’t be more proud.”
Hours after the race Spriggs, who has an infectious smile, said his cheeks were hurting because he hadn’t been able to stop smiling. Asked to put the accomplishment into words, he couldn’t do it.
“I don’t have any words,” he said. “I’ve been blessed.”
Spriggs’ teammate, senior Brandon Fugett (Randallstown, Md.),was also competing at the championship meet on Saturday, in the shot put competition. Fugett, who won the outdoor national championship in the shot put last spring, finished in fifth place on Saturday, adding another All-American award to his name with a distance of 54’ 9 ¼”.
“It would be great to win the national championship, but today it just wasn’t meant to be,” Jones said of Fugett’s performance. “We’ll have to go back to the drawing board so he can defend his championship outdoors and help our team to be in the top four or even win the national championship.”
Salisbury will continue its push toward the outdoor championship meet next weekend when the team travels to Winston-Salem, N.C., for the Wake Forest Invitational.