Hello everyone my name is Chaylene Bruggeman, I am a fourth year Track & Field athlete for Long Beach State and an intern here at Champion’s QUEST this Fall/Winter quarters for my Major in Kinesiology option in Fitness. I am a local to Southern California, born and raised in the City of Long Beach and attended Woodrow Wilson Classical High School where I competed in Varsity Gymnastics as well as Varsity Track & Field for all four years. Life as a student-athlete thus far has been quite a long journey full of highs and lows, but even looking back at my lowest moments, I would not
change anything I have gone through. Part of being an athlete is hitting those rock bottom days where it feels like nothing is going your way, and finding a way to push through and not let the mental frustrations and physical struggles get the best of you.
After 10 years of being a gymnast and competing in the Junior Olympic Program, I was well equipped with the tools to begin my track journey. Throughout my track career so far, I have competed in almost every track and field event including sprinting (100m, 200m 400m), hurdles (100m), pole vault, high jump, long jump, triple jump, shot put, javelin, and hammer throw. I have experienced the struggles and work that comes with each of them, but have also experienced the rewards and success. One of my biggest successes was being invited to walk on to Long Beach State’s Track and Field Team in 2012.
At the start of my freshman year, I was being trained to compete in the Heptathlon, triple jump and hammer throw, in total 9 events. A Heptathlon consists of a 200m, 800m, 100m hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put, and javelin. I was partaking in 3 different practice sessions for different events and a weight training session every day, totaling about 5 hours a day. The training was gruesome and it was often hard to finish practices, but when competition season came around, I was very thankful for my coaches preparing me so well to endure the long weekends of multiple strenuous events all to be completed over the course of two days.
Being a triple jumper along with a heptathlete was very tough on my body, especially my legs, which were constantly aching. I spent most of my time taking ice baths than I did taking normal showers. When sophomore year came around, I transitioned being to long/triple jumper and hammer thrower to lighten the load, and focus more on the 3 events I was strongest in. It was an interesting mix, from being a jumper, who are usually aim to be leaner and lighter, and being a hammer thrower as well, which usually requires a slightly thicker, more muscular body. I did alright in all of the events, but it was decided after this year that I needed specialize in one or the other so I could put all of my focus into being the best I could be at one event. My choice was the hammer throw.
Junior year, I trained only with the Throws Squad to be a hammer thrower. Throwing hammer is by far my favorite thing I have done in track and field so far. I threw a season PR of 52.89 meters, which puts me at 8th place All-Time in LBSU history, and qualified for Big West Conference Championships for the third year in a row, in which Long Beach State will be hosting for the 2016 season. I also competed in indoor season this year in the weight throw, and threw a mark that put me 8th all time in Long Beach State history as well. That would not have been possible without the push and support of my Throws Squad family. Being a student-athlete at the collegiate level is a priceless experience, I could not imagine being in school still and not playing a sport. You know that everyone on your team has worked their whole life to make it to where they are, and you get to share the same interests and goals with those people. My teammates push me so much harder than I would be able to push myself on my own, especially through those days where nothing is going right and the struggles can become overwhelming.
At the moment I am in pre-season, preparing for my fourth and final year to represent Long Beach State as a student-athlete. The road to where I am now has been strenuous; I just came back from a shoulder injury and am currently dealing with a knee injury as well. Being restricted from doing certain activities is definitely one of the hardest things for an athlete to deal with. I am unable to Squat or do any full Olympic Lifts, which is a huge part of my training for my event. It is definitely discouraging at times because it feels like I am being held back while my teammates are getting better. However, one of the perks of being a college athlete is having a team of Athletic Trainers and Sports Doctors always ready to get you through the injuries and back to good health. I am going to Physical Therapy to rehab my knee and will be ready to go in a few weeks, this time with the right mechanics and muscle balance to throw me right back in full force.
This final season that is right around the corner I have big goals to accomplish. I am sitting 8th place in Long Beach State history in both of my events, and definitely plan on beating those rankings this season. I also plan on making it to NCAA Track and Field Regionals this year in the hammer throw, and improving my current official PR by at least 4 meters. So far I am throwing pretty well, and have a great group of teammates that are pushing me like crazy everyday. They hold me accountable if I’m not giving 100% and they encourage me to put in extra work as well, even after normal practices are over. I am excited for what this upcoming season has in store and I am more than ready to go out and make history for Long Beach State.
Tagged: 2016 track and field season, Athlete, Athletic, big west conference, Champion's QUEST, college, collegiate athlete, field events, hammer throws, heptathlon, injury rehab, Long Beach State, long beach wilson high school, NCAA, strength training, student athlete, Track and Field, track team, University of California Long Beach