By: Nicholas Bernal
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
When Jeremy Dodson decided to transfer from "the sprinters' haven" - the University of Arkansas - one of his goals when he arrived at Colorado was to help the Buffaloes improve their sprinting program.
Fast forward four years and Dodson's mission has been accomplished.
“Compared to when I first got here, we have a lot more aggressive sprinters, not just the quarter-milers,” Dodson said when asked about the resurgence. “Everyone is learning more, especially from the mechanics side of it.
"We’ve always been a real close group, real similar to a family but this year it’s even closer —especially for me now that two of my brothers are on the team. I’m just really excited to see what happens this year because I know we can compete as sprinters.”
Dodson's two younger brothers, Quinton Dodson and A.J. Whitaker, are true freshmen on this year’s squad. Their presence is a sign the program is headed in the right direction.
Jeremy believes the CU sprint program will continue to improve because of the coaching staff's commitment and recruiting. He believes his brothers are part of a bright future.
“I’m hoping that they produce better than I did,” Jeremy said. “I’m comfortable knowing that they’re here and that I can watch over them and help them ease their transition into college. I know that it’d be harder for them if they had gone somewhere else. I can’t wait to see what they do because they are stronger and faster than I was as a freshman.
“Everyone is really excited about our 4x100 meter team, and everyone thinks that we can do some great things.”
Part of the revitalization of the sprinting program came last spring during the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The meet was held in Boulder, Colo., and Dodson played a huge role in the team’s ability to win their first conference championship since 1947.
Dodson placed second in the ultra-competitive 200M, clocking a time of 20.37 and setting a school record in the event. He followed up with a third place finish in the 100M (10.27 and a personal-best), third place in the 4x100M relay (39.59 and another school record), and a sixth place in the 4x400M relay.
“The main thing that I remember looking back on that weekend was how much emotion everyone on our team put into that meet,” Jeremy said. “One thing that I do take away from that weekend is that we do have a fast track and that we can compete with the best teams when we put our whole team together.
“The 100m was huge; even though I only placed third it took some points away from A&M. It was my (personal best) and because I’m not really a short sprinter I wasn’t expecting to do better than fourth or fifth. So I think that was the one I am happiest about.”
Dodson’s school-record setting performance in the 200M earned him a berth in the U.S. Olympic Trials and hooked him up with old friends and teammates from his days at Arkansas. He ran a 21.07 at the Trials, which was good for fourth in his heat and advanced him to the next round. He finished 17th overall and gained an immeasurable amount of experience for his senior season.
“I had been to a lot of big meets before, but not that big, nothing like the Olympic trials,” Dodson said. “My freshman year at Arkansas I got to be around Tyson (Gay) and Wallace (Spearmon) and they really helped me out and really mentored me with the little things.
“At the Trials, it was like a real-life sports history lesson, and it gave me more motivation to keep going and getting better. (The experience) is going to help me be more calm and confident. Since I’ve been to the Olympic trials, I’ve learned to control my emotions better and that’s big because they can take a toll on you. I think that is a big difference between the elite athletes and guys who are just fast. I’ve really learned how to just run my race and not necessarily perform for the crowd.”
Now that the Dodson and his Colorado teammates are preparing for the upcoming indoor season, he is passing along what he can to his teammates while gearing up for another strong season.
Last year he tied for the seventh fastest time in CU history (6.76) in the 60M and the second fastest in the indoor 200M (21.1). Dodson has battled injuries during his time in Boulder and one of his main goals is remaining healthy.
“The main thing we’ve been talking about is rehab,” Dodson said. “I’m always running hurt indoors so I’m hoping that maybe if I can do better with my rehab my indoor season will turn out better.”
Dodson is no stranger to indoor success. He was a member of Arkansas’ Indoor National Champion distance medley relay team. He ran the second leg of the relay to earn his first All-America honor.
“First, I want to make it to nationals individually,” Dodson said of his personal goals heading into his final indoor season. “I made it to nationals my freshman year (at Arkansas) but that was on a relay. I’ve always made the provisional qualifying time to go to nationals, but I haven’t made the top-12 yet.”
Regardless of the amount of success Dodson achieves this season, one thing is already certain. His impact on the Colorado sprint program has been vast, and he has already succeeded in his initial goal of leaving the program better than it was when he arrived.