Chaput Reflects on His Big Red Coaching Career
As many Lawrenceville faculty do, Program Director of the Lawrenceville Track and Field Team Erik Chaput fulfills many campus roles, including teaching in the history department and leading over the Griswold House as an Assistant Housemaster.
As many Lawrenceville faculty do, Program Director of the Lawrenceville Track and Field Team Erik Chaput fulfills many campus roles, including teaching in the history department and leading over the Griswold House as an Assistant Housemaster. But perhaps most notably, Chaput's tenure as Program Director has seen many successful, record-breaking track seasons.
In his role, Chaput organizes workouts, meets, and travel schedules in conjunction with the Athletic Department. He also works with the College Counseling Office and the Admission Office. "I spend time in our Admissions and College Counseling Office, helping kids think through what it would be like to compete for Big Red and then to think about what an athletic career could look like post-Lawrenceville," said Chaput.
Many outsiders do not see the dedication track and field demands. Chaput takes pride in creating training modules that maximize an athlete's chance of hitting a personal best during their championship season. Track and field athletes also have to buy into the program, as they have to "train properly day in and day out" and manage themselves under pressure. But throughout Chaput's years with the program, he has seen the hard work pay off.
He recalls the 2017 season when Lawrenceville's "Girls 4x400 meter race team broke the coveted four minute barrier at the Penn Relays, setting a school record in the process at [the] historic Franklin Field" just a few months after Lawrenceville's "Boys Indoor 4x400m team broke a 30-year-old record on the historic‚Ä¶Armory [Track] at the Eastern States [Indoor] Championship[s]," a mark he admitted he thought would never be broken. Both accomplishments have left a significant mark in the team's history, raising the bar.
This past indoor season, the Big Red Track and Field team, including Amy Aririguzoh '20 and III Formers Charlotte Bednar and Kiera Duffy and IV Former Laila Ritter, boasted "one of the top girls distance medley relays in the U.S." Chaput praised Bednar, who "[doubled] in the 1600m and 3200m [in] grand fashion" at the 2020 Mercer County Indoor Track Championships, a feat he does not expect to see in another 25 years.
Chaput loves seeing his athletes reach personal success and contribute to the team's positive character. He was impressed watching the pole vault squad, led by Coach Carl Huff, hit new heights this season, and he commends Ritter for moving up to the 800m and setting a positive example for II Formers. Despite the inevitable difficulty in instilling a team-first attitude, Chaput saw male and female athletes coming together for a common purpose this year.
With the V Form athletes' careers cut short, Chaput makes a heartfelt appraisal. He recognizes "the most talented girls high jump squad in [New Jersey] for several years," made up of High Jump Captain Aririguzoh, Jordyn Ford, and Ashley Warren. Aririguzoh and Warren are "the greatest track athletes [Chaput has] ever had the pleasure to work with." Secondly, he thanks Carolyn King and Maggie Ross for their dedication, and he praises Captain Ashley Raynor for raising the bar and "propelling the girls team [during] numerous relays at [the] New Balance‚Ä¶Nationals Outdoor." Chaput also thanks Theo Bammi and Alex Pessendorfer for their contributions to multiple championships, and he recognizes Jakob Kunzer, who "has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest 400m runners in school history." Chaput says he will deeply miss watching Jax Floyd, Reid Mario, and Jack Wragan in the pole vault as well as Mykael Canady, CJ Vilfort, and Brandon Henry in the throwing events. Finally, Chaput thanks Vishnu Rajakannan, who set a good example with his positive attitude despite his season-stopping injury.
Though Chaput cannot be "at the historic Penn Relays and [get] ready for the Mercer County Championship[s]," Chaput has been going to the track to train his kids. Through dedication and persistence, Chaput has coached and managed one successful track team after another, and despite the unforeseen events of COVID-19, he and his team will surely get back to competing at the high level they expect again come next winter and spring.