IU Alum Chorny Helps Student-Athletes Excel in Steeplechase
May 21, 2010
By Jeremy Rosenthal
In 2001, Indiana alumnus Tom Chorny won the U.S. Outdoor steeplechase championship, which earned him a spot on the World Championships team.
At IU, Chorny twice earned All-American honors in track and field and once was an All-American in cross country.
Although he has not given up on his running career, Chorny is in his third year as a volunteer assistant coach for the Hoosiers track and field team, and has developed a strong steeplechase program at IU.
Looking at the IU record book paints a picture of the success and influence Chorny is having for the team. On the men's side Chorny holds the school record of 8:30.97 over the distance of 3,000-meters, which includes 35 jumps over hurdle-type barriers, seven of which are over a pit of water.
Continuing down the list, junior De'Sean Turner occupies the fifth fastest time of 8:43.72, which he set en route to winning the 2010 Big Ten Championship race last week. Sophomore Andrew Poore finished second to Turner in the Big Ten race and holds the sixth-fastest time in IU history.
On the women's side the story is the same. Junior Sarah Pease, who was an All-American in the steeplechase last year, holds the school record of 9:59.16, a record she has set and broken three times. Pease has plenty of company on the list, as current Hoosiers Caitlin Engel, Breanne Ehrman, Erica Ridderman, Samantha Ginther and Kelsey Duerksen hold spots four through eight, all with times run this season.
Poore, a native of Indianapolis, said he thinks both groups influence each other.
"I think both the men's and women's groups feed off of each other," he said. "It's been very helpful and there is a lot of experience in both groups."
In order to achieve the level of success they have experienced, Chorny had them start doing steeple drills in November and started jumping in December. The time commitment and dedication to technique is important, especially with athletes that have never done hurdles prior to college.
At Zionsville High School Caitlin Engel never competed in a hurdle race, but always was curious. Many times there would be a random hurdle on the track, and Engel would jump over it for fun. Her coach would then get mad at her, thinking she was going to get injured.
Now Engel is the fourth-fastest women in IU history at the steeplechase. Engel said she enjoys the event and the repetition, practice and guidance from Chorny help a lot.
"Running against other girls, we realize how prepared we are," Engel said. "With his coaching, it has made this event so much easier and enjoyable for all of us."
Chorny, who still considers himself running professionally, trains with the same athletes he coaches. Although he is aging, he still feels like he fits in well with the group.
"I don't know if I'm so young anymore at 33 years old, I'll be 35 the next time the Olympics come around," he said. "I think that I'm very youthful and I think its kind of funny that I can get along with these guys really well."
As a friend and a coach, Poore said he appreciates having Chorny around.
"It's very helpful, because he can relate to what we are going through very easily," he said. "It helps a lot that he has had so much success and he shares a lot of his experiences with us."
In addition to his coaching duties, Chorny works at the Indiana Running Company, a local running store in Bloomington. He also works independently for the health sciences company USANA.
In the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Big Ten Championships, all Chorny could do was smile as he saw two of his athletes run down the last 100 meters together and finish first and second.
Poore said the success in the steeplechase was special in front of the home crowd and represented both the hard work of the athletes and their coach.
"I think Chorny deserves it for a lot of the hard work and dedication he has put in as a volunteer coach," Poore said. "It was a good day."
Even though Chorny knows his school record is in serious jeopardy with the talented group he has, he said he is having fun and hopes to be able to stay healthy enough to train with his athletes.
"I am having a blast, and I just hope I can get fit so I can get out there and race these guys and show them how it's done," he said.
Check back soon