June 18, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON - It wasn't getting over the 10 obstacles in the 100-meter hurdles that were the biggest collegiate barrier for Asia Bange.
Bange is finishing her freshman season for Marshall this week in the USA Outdoor Track & Field Junior Championships this week in Des Moines, Iowa. The Columbus, Ohio, native never even thought the Junior Nationals possible until earlier this spring.
"The biggest thing I've learned about myself as a hurdler is that I'm now capable of doing it; I just have to believe it," said Bange, who competes in the 100 hurdles Thursday. "People everywhere always say track is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I've been like, `No, it's not,' but this year has really made me believe and realize it's as mental as anything.
"At the beginning of the year, we had so many reps of this and that and I'm saying, `I've already killed myself; I'm not able to make these times.' Then I got through it and realized if I came into it with a positive attitude, then I would get good out of it because I'm not looking for anything bad to happen.
"But if I came in with an attitude like, `Uh, I'm going to die,' well, then I've already died. That way, I've prepared myself to die; that's what I'm looking for. So, I learned it's more mental and after I got off that negative and feeding into that, that's when I really started improving."
Bange (pronounced BANJ) heads to Des Moines with Herd All-American senior Vanessa Jules. She will compete in the USA Outdoor Championships in the heptathlon - in which she finished sixth in the NCAA Outdoor nationals two weeks ago.
Marshall finished in a tie for 36th at the NCAA Outdoors on Jules' performance and a fifth-place long jump showing by fellow All-American Crystal Walker.
Three years ago, after her freshman Herd season, Jules reached USATF Junior All-America status with a fourth place in the high jump.
Like former Herd athletes Erin Compton, Matt Schiffbauer, Amanda Kennedy, Walker and Jules, Bange hopes to use a U.S. Juniors trip as a springboard to a future NCAA berth.
"I don't think that going from one to the other is just a coincidence," Herd Coach Jeff Small said.
To compete in the USA Juniors, an athlete can't have reached a 20th birthday in 2013. In the 100 hurdles, the qualifying time was 14.20. Bange topped that twice this outdoor season, with her best a 14.03 at the Conference USA Championships in Houston ... after Bange has spent the previous three weeks-plus in a walking boot with a left foot strain.
The top four in Bange's event will qualify for the USA team at the 2013 Pan American Junior Championships, scheduled Aug. 23-25 in Medellin, Columbia.
Bange, one of 21 competitiors on Thursday, was part of a record-setting season for the Thundering Herd women, after arriving at Marshall as an Ohio state champion in the 100 hurdles for Walnut Ridge High School. She said she picked the MU program "late" after visiting Akron and Kent State. She didn't come to Huntington for a visit until early last June.
"I got a good vibe here," Bange said. "I just liked it."
Bange said she never imagined the success she would have, because she never worked with a hurdles coach until MU assistant Willie Johnson helped her find the keys to success.
"The transition last summer and fall was difficult for me," Bange said before leaving Tuesday for Iowa. "I didn't have a weight room facility to get into, and that kind of set me back. So, when I in had conditioning for eight weeks, I was dead tired all the time, felt like I wasn't an athlete.
"The other freshmen were challenged, too. This is college. I never had to work every day before, at 6 a.m. go to weights, it was just different, and then we're doing that and classes started and it's a lot when you start out. I used to think I was injured, but it was my body breaking down, was sore. I learned a lot from conditioning.
"College is really different. Everyone is on the same level. It's not like high school, where you've got some people who really want to run track and others who are doing it just to be out there. And here everybody was for everybody, everybody cares. The transition was really difficult at first, but once I got into it, it was like `OK, I'm going to do it and get it done.'"
Bange said she never considered continuing her track and field career in college until her junior season in high school. "Then I kind of saw my potential and thought `College isn't cheap,' and I got serious," she said.
That didn't make her first collegiate indoor season any easier, although she ran a couple of 8.85s in the 60 hurdles.
"I had more success than thought this year, but I honestly didn't know coming in I could do what I've done because I didn't have a hurdles coach," Bange said. "I didn't know what kind of difference having a coach would make.
"Indoors is really fast, 60 meters, and I was kind of upset because at first I wasn't picking it up," Bange said. "Coach told me what I could do, hurdles drills, but everything was foreign to me. Once I got the drills down, I started going faster.
"Then we set goals and I said I wanted to run an 8.5 in the 60, and we went to Akron (Feb. 1-2) and I ran it (in 8.85) and it was like `Wow, if I can some out and not discouraged and just run my race because all of these girls are fast, I can do this.' It came to me quicker than I thought it would.
"Once I picked up the indoor, I knew it would make my outdoor times better. One day we were practicing up on Level E (in the Henderson Center) and Coach Johnson kept yelling at me, `14.2 ... 14.2.' And I said what's 14.2. He said that's all I needed to qualify for Junior Nationals.
"I say, '14.2? I ran a 14.1 in high school.' But they don't like you to talk about what you did in high school. That's the past, doesn't mean anything. But I was excited that the 14.2 was so close to what I was already doing then, and I knew with the training and getting stronger I was capable."
However, Bange thought her season may have been over once she suffered the left foot injury midway through the outdoor season. Herd assistant coach Lacee Carmon-Johnson told Bange that if she couldn't run after discarding the walking boot, she wasn't going to Houston for the C-USA meet.
"I tried rehab, the boot. The trainers held me out of practice. I was really upset because it was getting close to conference," Bange said. "I was scared. Coach Lacee had said, if you're not practicing, I don't want you getting out there and running a 14.5. We're not doing that.
"And I'm thinking, `I don't want a 14.5, either.' It's conference, and I know it was my freshman year, but it's still big. I came out and ran a 14.03 (ninth place, just missing the finals). That surprised me."
Now, her bad foot aches once in a while, but she can run. Bange is back at full practice, and heads for Iowa with fast goals.
"I've been so close to get into 13s (seconds), I want to get there," she said. "I want to run a 13.6, that's my goal. The way I'm set up, the way I'm hurdling, I'm set up kind of for 13.8, but I really want a 13.6.
"I've been practicing with Vanessa (who runs the 100 hurdles in the heptathlon and did a school-record 13.39 in the NCAA nationals). That's good for me, because she's done a 13.3 so when I'm practicing with her try to take advantage of it. I'm just happy I can practice with her because it makes me better."
So, Bange is following Jules to Iowa, hoping to cap a special season for them and the Herd program.