NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- The epitome of NCAA Division III athletics is the commitment to fostering well-rounded growth and development through a combined educational and athletic experience. At the Division III level, student-athletes are committed to their sport, but they pride themselves on their wide-ranging talents in addition to their commitment to the pursuit of their degree. Many also immerse themselves in on-campus clubs and activities, and involvement in the community. When it comes to track and field, Carleton's Amelia Campbell is the embodiment of that well-rounded Division III philosophy.
"Being a well rounded person, you're trying to make yourself valuable in the greatest number of aspects in your life as you can," said Campbell. "You have to bring enthusiasm and spirit to everything you do."
In a sport with so many different events where specialization is commonplace, Campbell has found immeasurable success in her versatility, excelling on the track, in the field, and in the multi-event competitions. She has particularly excelled in the pentathlon, where she competes in five track and field events including 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run.
"I was considered a utility athlete in high school, constantly being thrown into different events," said Campbell. "You can look at is as, 'I don't know what I'm doing,' or you can say, 'I'm going to develop a new skill and do the best I can for my myself and my team.' When you look at that way, you have fun with it rather than thinking it's scary."
In the midst of a record-breaking season, Campbell soared to new heights Thursday at the 2014 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Indoor Track and Field Championships. Earlier this season, she had set a new MIAC and Carleton record in the pentathlon with the third-best score ever recorded in Division III. Thursday, she crossed the national record off her list as well as she broke her own conference and school mark, and set a new NCAA Division III standard with her first-place score of 3,914. She won all five events with a personal best in each, and improved two of her other school records - the 60-meter hurdles and the high jump - in the process.
(story continued below)
“To accomplish something like this as a sophomore is totally incredible,” Carleton Head Women's Track and Field Coach Donna Ricks said Thursday in a Knights' press release. “I don’t want to say it was a once-in-a-lifetime event, but it’s amazing to see someone pull it all together like this. She accomplished an unbelievable feat. She put her heart and soul out there tonight.”
Campbell's recipe for success includes good self awareness , willingness to step out of her comfort zone and being highly coachable. "I am pretty good at learning the field events because I am aware of my body position," said Campbell. "My coach can give me feedback and I can usually implement it immediately. I enjoy learning new things and I am able to take criticism well."
However, the criticism this season must be few and far between, because throughout the 2014 indoor season Campbell has re-written the Knights' record books on a weekly basis. Amazingly, Campbell has broken a Carleton school record in each of the team's seven indoor meets this season and she has improved her own records on several occasions.
Her versatility has been evident from the records she's broken, and the honors she's received. She's now the Carleton record-holder in everything from sprints, to jumps, to hurdles, to relays and, of course, the pentathlon. On Jan. 28 she was named the MIAC Women's Indoor Track Athlete-of-the-Week. Then, a week later she broke the school and conference pentathlon record (the first time) and was named both the National and MIAC Women's Indoor Field Athlete-of-the-Week.
Her then-record pentathlon score of 3,671 points came Jan. 31 at the MSU-Mankato Open. She won the event and set the record despite being the only Division III student-athlete in a field that featured five D-II athletes and two unattached competitors. That score broke the Knights' record by more than 300 points, and beat out Gustavus alum Janey Helland's MIAC record of 3,526, which was set at the 2011 NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships. It ranked as the third-best score in Division III history, and the top mark in the nation in 2014, until she beat it with her new record score at the MIAC Championships. Her new score is not only a school, conference and national record, it would also rank No. 1 in Division II this season, and 32nd in Division I.
"Having the third-best pentathlon score ever in D-III is exciting; I have had constant improvement." Campbell said, prior to Thursday's latest record-breaking performance. "I like the structure of the [pentathlon]. You are continuously moving with the same group of people. You have time to prepare your mindset for the next event."
However, Campbell's assault on the record books hasn't ended there. In the same Jan. 31 performance, she tied a school record by clearing 5-5.25 feet (1.66 meters) in the high jump. At the Feb. 15 Meet of the Hearts, she set a new school record of 8.40 seconds in the 55-meter hurdles, and helped the Carleton 4x200-meter relay finish in 1:45.47, also a new Knights' record.
The following week, Campbell broke two records she had already claimed earlier in the season. She lowered her Carleton record in the 60-meter hurdles to 9.03 seconds, and helped the 4x400-meter relay team lower its mark to 4:00.40 at the University of Minnesota's Parent's Day Open on Feb. 22. She capped the regular season by setting a new Knights record in the 60-meter dash at the Ole Open on Feb. 28, finishing the race in 8.04 seconds.
Her record-setting season continued at the first day of the 2014 MIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, where she improved on three of her school-record marks. In addition to her pentathlon score of 3,914, she lowered her school record in the 60-hurdles to 8.88 seconds, and cleared the high-jump bar at 5-6 to raise that record as well.
Campbell said of all the outstanding performances, two of her favorites (other than the pentathlon) have been her success in the hurdles, and tying Carleton's long-standing high jump record. "I was really excited to get my hurdle time down," she said. "I came into college as a hurdler, so getting PRs in that has been my favorite event.
"The high jump record existed for a long time, and [Ricks] kept saying, 'We are going to get you over 5-5.' During the Mankato meet, I kept going and going. High jump is an event where you can get stuck at a certain height. Breaking through 5-4 was a big mental barrier for me."
Though Campbell came to Carleton as a promising prospect prior to the 2012-13 season, she has grown immeasurably in her year-and-a-half on campus. Ricks attributes that improvement to two things - Campbell's immense dedication to her craft, and the team's work with Carleton Strength and Conditioning Coach Jim Jarvis.
"Last year was an incredible learning year for [Campbell]," Ricks said. "She became a student of the sport. She focused and listened to technical pieces and picked them up quickly. Amelia has great body awareness and she's athletic. She wasn't overwhelmed by it ... One thing that has benefitted our program is the addition of a strength and conditioning coach. He has invested himself in all of our student athletes and they have responded well to him."
"Working with Jim has made a world of difference," added Campbell. " He has designed a strength program for me and I have become so explosive in everything I do."
Jarvis thoroughly enjoys working with Campbell because she is an athlete that gives 100 percent and trusts his training regimen completely. " I think I could tell her to run through a brick wall, and as long as I told her it would make her faster, she would do it," said Jarvis. "It has never really been about the workouts themselves, it's been about the dedication to them and the effort she puts in."
Campbell's work with Jarvis doesn't end with her own improvement. She's also volunteered her track expertise to help him work with the Knights' football team on speed development twice a week. "She has done a great job coaching them up on their running form and teaching them how to run properly," Jarvis said. "If our skill position players are flying around the field next year come September, she will be a big reason why."
Not only is Campbell well-rounded in track and field, but she succeeds in her involvement on campus outside of the athletics sphere, including her participation in a saxophone quartet. She is still undeclared on a major, but is leaning towards pursuing a degree in Biology. She balances all her pursuits with the same well-rounded approach that has worked for her in her sport.
"Balancing the workload is more a matter of not stressing about little things and prioritizing well," Campbell said. "Some things are more important than others. It involves applying yourself where you can without sacrificing your mental health. It's really important for me to make use of my time during the day. I have to snap into focus quickly depending on what I'm working on."
"Amelia doesn't limit herself," added Ricks. "She explores and gets involved all across campus and does all things at a high level. Student athletes in D-III can get involved and she takes advantage of that. Amelia is not just an athlete. She really shows that you can be a great student and achieve great things in other areas at a D-III institution."
This weekend, Campbell has already put a record-setting exclamation point on her indoor season with her pentathlon victory and record at the 2014 MIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by Saint Benedict and Saint John's in Collegeville, Minn. She'll try to continue her tremendous run of success in individual events and relays Friday and Saturday. And though it has been a record-setting regular season for Campbell and her Carleton teammates, they aren't changing their focus despite the magnitude of the meet.
"I know Amelia certainly has high expectations for herself this weekend even though she might not say anything about it," said Ricks prior to the start of the MIAC Championships. "On our team, we don't talk about placement. We emphasize what we need to focus on that is within our control."
Campbell entered the MIAC Indoor Championships seeded first in the pentathlon, and she also enters as the top seed in the long jump. She is seeded second in two other events as well - the 60-meter hurdles and the high jump. Campbell will also be counted on to help Carleton compete for relay titles, likely in the 4x200 and 4x400, as the Knights are seeded second in both races.
Despite the expectations created by Campbell's tremendous season so far, her visions for herself and her team at the MIAC Championships have nothing to do with first-place finishes, continued record-breaking performances, or All-Conference honors. Campbell wants continue her success at the MIAC Championships, but she is careful not to make this meet any bigger than it is.
"My only expectation is going to be to have fun," said Campbell prior to the start of the meet. "Every event at the MIAC always has great competition. I am going to approach this meet the way I've looked at all meets this year. I have to trust my training, go crazy, have fun and see what happens. I am not allowing myself to get stressed about the implications of the MIAC meet. I know if I change my mentality now, it may affect my performance."
So Campbell and Carleton plan to stick with what's been working when they continue to compete on the conference's biggest stage this weekend. Considering how that plan worked out on Thursday, and overall in 2014, it might be smart for the Knights to maintain their record in pencil - with an eraser nearby - throughout the rest of Campbell's career.