Q&A with Kendra Chambers: on the track paradox of team v. individual in the Big 12 Championship

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Women's Track & Field

At the Big 12 Championships this weekend, senior sprinter Kendra Chambers will compete in the 600-yard even though she specializes in the 400-yard. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Corey Leamon | Daily Texan Staff

The Daily Texan with senior sprinter Kendra Chambers. Chambers is the 2011 Big 12 indoor 600 yard champion and hopes to lead the Longhorns to a Big 12 Championship this weekend at College Station.

Q: What is the team’s collective goal going into the Big 12 Indoor Championship?
A: As a team we’re trying to get, of course, national qualifying marks — but not only that. We’re also focusing on coming together as a team, and the Big 12 is going to be the first real challenging test of that. It’s our pre-test before Nationals. So I think if we succeed this weekend, it will definitely help us tell the story of how we’re going to become National Champions.

Q: You talk about coming together as a team. Texas has had consistently improving individual performances, but as a team it has also consistently declined in the national rankings. What do you feel that Texas needs to do to reverse this trend and do you think that the Big 12 Championship is the perfect time to do it?
A:
The Big 12 Championship is the first time we actually get to be a real team because we need the points to win. As individual athletes, we feel the pressure now. [In a] normal meet we want to qualify for nationals; this meet you get your individual points so we can win as a team. The times will just come. And our rankings will just come. Numbers will come. But I think as soon as we actually decide to get the 10 points, get the eight points, the six points — even the one point for eighth place — I think once we do that and come together, we’ll be successful in the Big 12 Championship.

Q: What is your main personal goal for this Conference Championship?
A:
The Big 12 [Championship] is different for me. Since I’m the returning Big 12 Indoor Champion for the 600-yard, I’m going to compete in the event again. You know for me, I’m a 400-meter runner. I’d rather compete in [the 400-meter dash] but, like I said before, since we’re coming as a team I’m willing to sacrifice so we can get the 10 points, or the eight points, or what have you. Personally, I’m just looking forward to going ahead and winning the 600-yard again and getting the 10 points for the team so we can be the Big 12 Champions. I’d like to, of course, better my time. I ran 1:19 last year, which won first place, so hopefully I can break Suziann Reid’s [indoor 600-yard] record.

Q: So do you consider running the 600-yard and not the 400-meter to be a sacrifice?
A:
Exactly. And Coach Bev knows that. After this meet [I’m] going to head into the Last Chance meet and qualify [in the 400-meter] there. It’s a little bit of a risk but I’m definitely willing to do it knowing that I can get 10 points and to help the team win the Big 12.

Q: Out of all the athletes who are really excelling this season, you are one of the oldest. Being more experienced and after winning a Big 12 Championship title last year, do you feel more individual pressure than you have in the past?
A:
Yes. This year, I’m technically a junior indoor and a sophomore outdoor. I definitely feel the pressure; it would be nice to set an example for the younger [freshmen] and sophomores by getting those 10 points and winning first place. I do feel a pressure because I am returning champion but, nonetheless, more importantly, I look at it as trying to get the points for the team. I’m trying to set an example so we can set off a wildfire in College Station. 

Q. Throughout the season, would you say that most athletes put more focus on their individual performance or performing as part of one team?
A.
People have to put emphasis on their individual competition. But the way I look at it is: if I can’t help my team individually, then I’m not getting points for them. So, to be out there everyday at practice individually working is important because once you get to the meet, we need the points [that are won by individual athletes]…and then those comes together collectively. It’s a system. It works. You have to be individually sound to help the team.

Q: Out of all the athletes who are really excelling this season, you are one of the oldest. Being more experienced and after winning a Big 12 Championship title last year, do you feel more individual pressure than you have in the past?
A:
Yes. This year, I’m technically a junior indoor and a sophomore outdoor. I definitely feel the pressure; it would be nice to set an example for the younger [freshmen] and sophomores by getting those 10 points and winning first place. I do feel a pressure because I am returning champion but, nonetheless, more importantly, I look at it as trying to get the points for the team. I’m trying to set an example so we can set off a wildfire in College Station.

Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: Chambers takes a risk with 600-yard run