UCF Pair Proves to Be Multi-talented

Feb. 22, 2007

The phrase: "try it, you might like it" could very well be the motto for UCF track and field athletes Sheree Carter and Natalie Braddock. After specializing in a couple of events in high school, the sophomore duo was approached by the Golden Knight coaching staff to compete in the multi-events - the indoor pentathlon and the outdoor heptathlon.

Carter, who was recruited specifically for the "multis" as they are often called, began her training a year ago. She had competed in the long jump, high jump, relays and pole vault at Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla., but she needed to learn events like the shot put, javelin and hurdles.

"It definitely wasn't easy and took a lot of extra time," she said. "I was always the first person at practice and the last one to leave."

For a multi-event athlete, a practice schedule includes a variety of training. On one day, Carter and Braddock - along with junior Tia Harewood and sophomore Sade Nero - arrive an hour early to work on the high jump then join the throwers at the shot put followed by some running. The next day might feature the hurdles and more running. The next could be long jump and more training with the shot put.

"I started training in the shot put and working on my technique in some of the other events like the high jump and long jump," said Braddock, who made her debut in the pentathlon earlier this season. "It was difficult because there is so much technique involved in each event. It means a lot of hard work and focus in practice."

The indoor pentathlon features five events - long jump, high jump, shot put, the 800-meter run and the 55m/60m hurdles, while the outdoor heptathlon includes the long jump, high jump, shot put, 200m, 800m, javelin and 100m hurdles.

Not every event is easy for a newcomer to learn. Even with her background as a gymnast, Carter had to overcome some obstacles when taking on the hurdles for the first time.

"The hurdles were the hardest for me because it is something that you should really learn when you are younger and more fearless," she said. "It's different because you are running full speed and you have to jump over something at the same time. My gymnastics background made it easier for me to maneuver my body, but the fear was still there. I know that I have a few battlescars."

Braddock, meanwhile, had trouble with different events. "Shot put and high jump were the toughest," said the native of Callahan, Fla. "I had never done shot put before and high jump involves a lot of technique."

In addition to the physical aspect of learning a new event, there is also a mental approach to the multis.

"Some days are better than others when it comes to certain events," said Carter. "With the multis, you have a better chance at making up for a bad event. If I know I could have done better in a certain event, it makes me work even harder in the others."

Braddock agreed. "You have to try not to about anything but the event that you are competing in at the time. If you know that you had a weak performance in an event, you know that you can make it up in your strongest event."

Given the impressive performances thus far, it seems that pair has found their niche. Carter collected 3,229 points to take fifth in the pentathlon at the 2006 Conference USA Indoor Championship then earned 4,500 points for fifth place at the 2006 C-USA Outdoor Championship. Earlier this season at the Gladstein Invitational, Carter recorded a career-best 3,366 points, an effort that ranks second in the UCF record books.

With such a successful first season, Carter has set her goals higher for 2007. "I want to finish in the top three and be all-conference," she said. "I know that have to focus on the technical aspects and the little things. With last year being my first in the multis, I learned enough to get through. Now I focus more on the technical things that can only help me improve."

As for Braddock, who earned 2,749 points in her first attempt at the pentathlon at the Gladstein Invitational. "I want to score at conference. I know I can only improve because I've only competed in one meet."

Maybe, in the case of Carter and Braddock, the phrase should be amended to: try it and not only might you like it, but you could very well succeed.