It is highly unusual for a college freshman to set a school record, but that’s what Peabody’s Nick Ingham did last February when he scored 4,666 points in the heptathlon for UMass Amherst.
It took less than a year for that mark to fall — and it happened when Ingham broke his own record.
Competing in the opening meet of the Minutemen’s winter track season, Ingham scored 4,731 points in the heptathlon (consisting of seven different track events) and placing fourth overall at the Sorlien Invitational at the University of Rhode Island last weekend.
“I never expected to do it because that competition had a lot of the best multi’s (athletes that do several events) in New England,” said Ingham. “It was a great way for me to get started with personal records and a new best score.
“I tend to score more points in the running events like the 60-meter dash and 1,000. I do pretty well in the 60 meter hurdles and lately have had better success in the pole vault and shot put. In our conference, I throw better than other multi-athletes.”
The 6-foot-4 former Peabody High star rooms with old friend Zack Grube, who also had a great career with the Tanners. Grube was known as one of the top high jumpers and hurdlers in high school, but a knee injury ended his jumping career.
“I can’t jump anymore but I hurdle and run the 400,” said Grube. “Last year my coach (Ken O’Brien) said to take a year off from high jumping and work on hurdles and running. When I started high jumping again around Thanksgiving my knee began hurting, and in order to help the team I’m concentrating on running and hurdling because I have the potential to score in those events.
“I want to make the hurdles finals in our conference indoors; outdoors I’ll do 110 and 400 hurdles. I’d love to run a leg on the 4x4 relay team, but a lot of guys have around the same time so I’ll have to wait and see.
“Coach doesn’t want us to set any goal numbers, but to concentrate on going out to have a good race,” added Grube. “He says to focus on the person beside you and get points for the team.”
At the Sorlien Invitational, Grube finished fourth overall and tied his personal best. This season the coaches had Grube switch his start, and while it frustrated him at first he is gradually getting used to it.
“Coach said not to worry about it; my times would start going down,” said Grube, a double major in English and psychology with a minor in Latin. “I ran 8.73 seconds (60-meter hurdles) and want to get down to 8.6.”
Ingham has to put in a lot of time because he does so many different events.
“The workouts are grueling,” said the kinesiology major, who wants to be a physician’s assistant. “I have tendonitis in my left knee; it’s called jumper’s knee, so I barely practice the high jump before meets. If I do it a few times a week in practice it hurts and I might gain only an inch. It just isn’t worth the trade off.
“I’ve been improving a lot since last year, but I don’t want to set any limits. I would like to break my record as many times as I can. When I did it last year I had no clue I was even close to the school record. I was just trying to win.”
Ingham didn’t have a lot of experience in many of the events he does now, but he was a quick learner.
“I picked up things quickly, but the pole vault is the most technical of all,” said Ingham. “I had never done it before, and it was a challenge learning how to do it, but now that’s one of my favorites. I think you always like the ones you do best.”
This weekend the Minutemen are in Boston for the Northeastern Invitational. They’ll go to Cambridge for the Harvard Invitational the following weekend.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at email@example.com.