DJ Chisom, a sprinter on the Slippery Rock University men’s track and field team, started his senior year by placing fourth in the 60-meter dash on Saturday at the Youngstown State University Icebreaker.
Chisom finished the race in 6.89 seconds, hitting the NCAA provisional qualifying mark. He combined with his teammates to take home third place in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 3:22 at the season-opener.
Chisom claims that the 60 meter dash is his favorite event because of the adrenaline rush of a short race and how it works well for his size. However, he knows that there are still some things he can work on.
“I feel like I can improve on my block starts and opening up my stride,” Chisom said.
Chisom also claimed that he suffered a minor knee injury during the race, but that the injury was nothing serious.
Head coach John Papa was pleased with Chisom’s performance on Saturday, but believes there is more to come from him.
“He has improved every year since he has been here,” Papa said, “He is one of the best in the PSAC. I applaud his hard work and team ethic.”
One of Chisom’s motivations on race day is his major. He is a Special Education major because he enjoys working with mentally and physically disabled children.
Chisom enjoys his major so much that he is fundraising for children with disabilities based on his race results.
“I decided to make my last leason a little special,” Chisom said. “I’m donating money to disabled children based on how many first place finishes I get this season, each event I win at PSACs, and if I qualify for Nationals.”
His parents have also had a great influence on his track career. Chisom was attending Robert Morris University after not receiving any scholarship offers for track out of high school.
“I always wanted to get back into track,” Chisom said, “I played a lot of intramural sports to keep in shape and stay active.”
Unfortunately, Chisom tore his ACL while playing intramural sports at RMU and had surgery to repair his knee in December 2009.
His parents helped motivate him through the rehab and encouraged him to run at Slippery Rock, when he transferred in 2010.
The injury didn’t slow Papa down in bringing Chisom to the Rock, as he recovered from his ACL surgery.
His first season was the 2010-11 season where he recorded four top-10 finishes, including a win in the 55 meter dash at Baldwin Wallace with a time of 6.55 seconds. Chisom earned All-PSAC honors in the 60 meter dash, running a time of 6.97 seconds, finishing second.
The following season, Chisom recorded five top-10 finishes and again earned All-PSAC honors in the 60 meter dash, taking second with a time of 6.93 seconds.
Before his races, Chisom has one small ritual he likes to stick to.
“I always say the Lord’s Prayer before races,” Chisom said, “It’s something I’ve always done and always will do.”
“The best has yet to come for him,” Papa said, “I hope he can win conferences this year. I know he’s capable of it.”
Chisom will be competing tomorrow at the Kent State Golden Flash Gala.