Trying to break one particular Loyola University Chicago track and field record — and failing — has indirectly led to record success in other events for Candice Carajohn.
Carajohn, a Loyola junior and Seneca native, had hopes of breaking the school's indoor record at Indiana University's Gladstein Invitational on Jan. 20. Her sixth-place pentathlon score of 2,627 fell short of the all-time mark, but while completing the pentathlon, Carajohn set a new Loyola indoor record in the long jump with a 5.49-meter leap.
Since then, Carajohn has slowly shifted her focus to a smaller number, relatively speaking, of events. She presently competes in the long jump, the triple jump, the 400-meter hurdles, the 4x100-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay. The narrowed slate has resulted in Carajohn twice being named the Loyola Female Athlete of the Month, earning Horizon League Female Field Athlete of the Week honors on April 10 and in her breaking and re-breaking numerous Loyola records.
"At the beginning of the year, I was a multi. I was training throughout the indoor season for that," Carajohn said. "Towards the end of the indoor season, my coach (Randy Hazenbank) threw in that he thought I could do really well in the triple jump. I hadn't done it since my freshman year. I worked on it in two or three practices and ended up doing pretty well the first time in a meet."
Carajohn made the school record in the pentathlon with 3,491 points at the Horizon League Indoor Championship on Feb. 26. That meet marked a turning point of sorts for her season.
"After conference, I reevaluated a little bit," Carajohn said. "I had shoulder surgery a while back, and throwing the javelin would be rough on my shoulder. Given what my horizontal marks were, we decided it would probably be best if I focused on those and that would potentially lead to me getting a regional mark."
Loyola's outdoor season began with Carajohn leaping 18 feet, 7 inches in the long jump, breaking Michelle Bellford's record of 18 feet, 3.75 inches set in 2004. She improved on that mark later in March at the Raleigh Relays, recording a mark of 18 feet, 7.75 inches. She also ran the 400 meters there in 56.63 seconds, which was the second-best mark in school history.
At the University of Chicago on March 31, Carajohn again broke her prior mark in the long jump by over a foot, leaping 19 feet, 11.75 inches. She added another school record in the triple jump, covering a distance of 39 feet, 10 1/2 inches to break another Bellford mark from 2004 of 39 feet, 7 3/4 inches.
"She is just now coming into her own in some of these events," Hasenbank said of Carajohn. "She is nearing 40 feet in the triple jump and 20 feet in the long jump. Those are big barriers, but I think she is going to break both of those."
Hasenbank is a first-year head coach, and nearly the entire Rambers staff is new, but Carajohn has worked closely with one holdover, graduate assistant jumps coach Bob Thurnhoffer, as she has focused specifically on those events.
"(Thurnhoffer) has so much enthusiasm for those horizontal jumps that it makes me love them even more," she said. "Every practice together, something positive happens, and we have worked on something productive."
When Carajohn first went to Loyola, it was with the intention of being a two-sport athlete. She played in two volleyball matches as a freshman but is no longer part of the team, which may be to her benefit as a track and field athlete.
"She has focused her training fully into track and field, and that's something that I feel has made a difference," Hasenbank said. "She's a very good runner and a tremendous competitor. If Candice is going to try something, she is going to try her best. She wants to do well and she wants to break records."
There are three events left on the Rambers' schedule that are of added importance to Carajohn. The first is the Drake Relays later this month. Athletes must have marks that qualify in order to enter the Drake Relays; Carajohn's are "very, very close," according to Hasenbank, to qualifying.
"It's definitely a top-notch meet with many top competitors. It is almost at the level of a regional national meet," Carajohn said. "There are usually some unattached Olympians there. It is just incredible competition."
The Ramblers will compete in the Horizon League Outdoor Championship at Milwaukee Lutheran on May 4, 5 and 6, and will be trying to improve on their fourth-place team showing at the indoor Horizon meet earlier this year.
"It's definitely about the team this year," Carajohn said. "Maybe we can bump up to third. To be able to take Butler down would be awesome."
Carajohn is hopeful to have one more major meets to prepare for after conference — the NCAA Preliminary Round, which will be May 25 and 26 in Austin, Texas.
"Going into this year, I didn't think I would ever be in contention to make it to regionals," Carajohn said. I can't believe it, really. I'm just hoping to improve on my marks and definitely would love to make it to regionals. At regionals, who knows what could happen."