A Development Tale
Chukwuebuka Enekwechi was the only athlete at the NCAA track and field championships over the weekend qualified in both the men’s shot put and hammer competitions. The redshirt freshman from Purdue finished 14th in both events.
The former PSAL standout from Francis Lewis High School in Queens is still learning how to blend his physical strength with the nuances of technique.
“It takes patience, you need finesse and technique,” Enekwechi said in an interview at Hayward Field. “I have all the base strength that I need. It’s just motor patterns and actual technique that I need to work on.”
By coming here last week for the NCAA meet, Enekwechi got a chance to see how he measures up against the best in the country. He threw short of his personal bests (62-6 1/2 in the shot put, 213-0 in the hammer) and didn’t make it to either final. He produced marks of 60-1 1/4 in the shot put and 205-10 in the hammer.
Earlier this year, Enekwechi, 20, placed third at the NCAA indoor championships in the weight throw.
His performances were a little less consistent outdoors, including 11th place in the shot put at the Big Ten championships.
Still, his improvement since his days in the PSAL — and learning the throws at the Armory — is impressive.
A first-generation American whose parents are from Nigeria, Enekwechi first came out for track so that he could get in shape.
“I was made fun of because I was a little chubby,” Enekwechi said. “I wanted to join a team so I joined the track team. I get a little obsessive with things so I went online and looked at all the great throwers, and it went from there.”
The first time he saw track and field at the Armory, he thought shot put was “an oddball event.”
“You’ve got all these people running (on the track) and then there’s a cage where people are throwing balls,” Enekwechi said. “I just thought, ‘I guess you can make a competition out of anything.'"
Enekwechi compared himself to a couple of throwers from Transit Tech, Errol Jeffrey and Chad Delecia.
“When I was starting out at about 37 feet (in the shot), Errol and Chad were throwing 50,” Enekwechi said. “I said, ‘I got to be like them someday.’”
Jeffrey, now at Monmouth, made the NCAA championships and finished 23rd. Delecia competes for Lehman College.
Enekwechi, who is a graduate of the Armory Prep mentoring program, is a PSAL success story. He has finished his sophomore year academically and is majoring in Law and Society.
He was recruited to Purdue -- renowned for its throwing -- and spent his redshirt year lifting weights. There is nothing “chubby” about him today. Enekwechi has the physique of a body-builder.
He takes a pragmatic approach to track and field.
“I’m very realistic about things,” Enekwechi said prior to last week’s meet. “I don’t have much to be down about. Hopefully, I perform well.”
Even after the shot put competition, he was ready to learn what he could from the experience and move on.
“I needed 61 (feet) today and I threw 60,” he said. “I’m not colossally disappointed. I warmed up bigger than I ever have. I think I put too much into the warm-up.”
Enekwechi has plenty of time to grow into the sport.
“I have good general strength,” said the 5-foot-11, 235-pound thrower. “I have good weight-room strength. Now I’m working on technical aspects (of the events) to get more out of my frame.”