Colbert tries to defend his titles at SEmotion Relays

Friday, April 4, 2008

Brandon Colbert hopes to defend his SEmotion Relays titles in the shot put and discus this weekend.

But Southeast Missouri State's standout thrower has much bigger things on his mind -- like making up for last year's NCAA regional disappointment.

Colbert had an impressive freshman season and was primed for a strong regional showing.

But he came down with a case of pneumonia in the days leading up to the meet at the University of Missouri.

Colbert competed anyway, but finished 17th in the discus and 30th in the shot put. He didn't come close to threatening for a berth in the national meet that went to the top five finishers.

"It was really bad timing," Colbert said of his illness. "I hope to do a lot better this year."

Colbert has demonstrated no type of sophomore slump following last year's banner rookie campaign.

A native of Troy, Mo., Colbert won his second major Ohio Valley Conference award in February when he was voted the league's indoor male field athlete of the year.

Colbert won the shot put and weight throw at the OVC indoor meet and has already qualified regionally for outdoor regionals in both the shot put and discus.

That came after a freshman season that saw Colbert named OVC outdoor male field athlete of the year. He won the discus at the OVC outdoor meet in 2007 and placed second in the shot put.

"Brandon has really done well ever since he got here," Southeast coach Joey Haines said. "He's a hard worker and he's only going to get better."

Colbert said he has been pleased with his college career so far, but hopes to take things up a notch during the outdoor season that recently started.

Colbert, a former high school state champion in the discus -- that's his best event -- has his sights set on reaching the Olympic Trials qualifying standard of 192 feet this season.

"I was around 180 last year in practice before the regional when I got sick," said Colbert, who said his best during a meet is in the 172-foot range. "That's [192] what I'm shooting for. I don't think it's out of reach."

The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Colbert also was a standout football player in high school with plans to compete on the college level.

"But I was having more success in track, so I kind of went in that direction," he said.

Colbert said he was more than happy to sign with Southeast when he was recruited by throws coach Eric Crumpecker, a former star thrower in college.

Crumpecker has primarily worked with Colbert since he came to Southeast.

"It's just a great program. A lot of good athletes come out of here," Colbert said of why he chose Southeast. "He [Crumpecker] helps me a lot. We hit the drills really hard and my strength level is way up."

Said Haines: "Eric did a really good job of recruiting Brandon, and he's really worked with him. We got on him [Colbert] early. He had a great senior year and he stuck with us."

Although qualifying for nationals is extremely difficult, Haines said he believes Colbert has a chance in the discus this year.

"Our regional has traditionally been very good, but he sure does have a shot," Haines said.

But before the NCAA regional is held in late May, Colbert has plenty of other things to look forward to.

That includes competing this weekend in front of family and friends at Southeast's Abe Stuber Complex. Colbert's events begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

"When we had our indoor [home] meet we had good crowds, and I threw really good," said Colbert, who earlier this year broke the school's indoor shot put record. "My family will come down. ... It should be a lot of fun."

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