Babicz Takes Aim at the Best in Outdoor Track Season
April 1, 2014
CHICAGO – It wasn’t quite the performance Matt Babicz wanted, but the DePaul shot-put standout still came away with a pretty memorable consolation prize.
After winning the BIG EAST Conference Indoor Championships with a throw of 18.80 meters, Babicz was looking to qualify for the finals of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships March 15 at Albuquerque, N.M.
Despite coming up short of his goal, a throw of 18.03 meters allowed him to finish 14th in the shot put and earn USTFCCCA All-America Second Team honors.
The last Blue Demon to accomplish that feat was shot-putter Tim Nedow at the 2012 NCAA indoor meet at Boise State.
“Finishing 14th made me a second-team All-American, and that was awesome,” Babicz said. “I had never done that well before. It gave me more motivation to do even better in the outdoor season.
“At the indoor nationals, I underperformed. I had some issues with my technique, and it wasn’t my day.
“I was a little hoppy in the ring, and I wasn’t driving through the ring. It’s tough to fix a technique flaw like that with just three throws while you’re in the middle of competing.”
In the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake, Babicz wound up 17th in the shot put and was Honorable Mention All-America.
“I remember that I had a really good day and recorded my best throw at Drake,” Babicz said. “In the practices leading up to the event, I was throwing my best ever. Everything came together.”
Babicz said that he has historically done better in the outdoor season.
“The surface is different in the spring, and I tend to do better outdoors,” Babicz said. “It’s a concrete circle. You can drive harder, be more aggressive, and that’s my style. On the wood circle during indoor season, you need more balance.”
Babicz is off to a good start outdoors, winning the shot put at last weekend’s Lenny Lyles/Clark Wood Invitational in Louisville, Ky. with a throw of 18.47 meters.
“My best throw indoors was 19.43 meters Jan. 31 at the Indiana Relays,” Babicz said. “At the time, it was the ninth best mark in the nation. If I would’ve performed at that level, there’s a good chance I could have been a first-team, All-American.
“I feel I can be just as competitive as the top guys in the country. The one guy who has separated himself from everyone else is Ryan Crouser from Texas who won the national indoor shot put title with a throw of 21.21 meters.”
As the lone DePaul student-athlete competing at the NCAA indoor nationals, Babicz noticed a stark contrast from the BIG EAST meet.
“It was a lot different competing without the support of my teammates,” Babicz said. “Everyone on both the men’s and women’s track teams screamed so loudly for each other at the BIG EAST meet. We were the only school that had guys cheering for the women and having them cheer for us.
“My brother texted me saying he should have been in New Mexico supporting me because I always do better when he is around. I definitely missed Anthony and all the rest of my DePaul teammates cheering for me.
“There were some competitors from Texas, Arkansas and other nearby states that had large cheering sections. That helps pump you up for an event like the shot put.”
Unless the NCAA schedules indoor nationals somewhere near Chicago, that probably won’t happen for a Blue Demon competitor.
Babicz came up with another alternative.
“One way of solving that is to have a lot more DePaul student-athletes qualify for nationals,” Babicz said. “We are getting more and more talented every year, and there are high expectations for the program. I believe we are going to see more and more NCAA qualifiers in the future, and everyone will be vocally supporting each other.
“There’s a definite team chemistry building at DePaul. All of us practice together and push one another to do better. I can’t wait for the day when a bunch of my teammates are with me at nationals screaming their support.”
Until that day arrives, Babicz is happy to carry the banner for DePaul.
“I’m ready to do even better outdoors,” Babicz said. “My goals are to win the BIG EAST meet, qualify for the NCAA meet and become a first-team, All-American. I want to be real competitive with the best shot-putters in the country.”
The Blue Demons head to Milwaukee on Friday for a meet at Marquette.
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