Strawberry Jolly Ranchers and Kit Kats are for special occasions for Wichita State sprinter Shamoya Pruitt. Candy is a treat, not a food group.
“I eat candy every day, and now I can’t,” she said. “After a meet I might, but after that I can’t have any more.”
Better eating habits are one way Pruitt is showing she is serious about her senior season. She is no longer running in the shadow of former Shocker Audacia Moore, who won eight Missouri Valley Conference titles and holds five school records. Pruitt, a senior from South High, is WSU’s top sprinter and she realized she needed to act that way.
“I’ve worked a lot harder,” she said. “I’ve paid more attention to the small details, like warmups and drills and that’s helped my sprinting form a lot.”
WSU started its indoor track and field season on Wednesday in the Herm Wilson Invitational at the Heskett Center. Pruitt finished third in Thursday’s 60-meter dash, behind Butler Community College’s Remona Burchell (7.34 seconds), the NJCAA meet’s fifth-place finisher a year ago, and NAIA champion Jura Levy (7.36) of Oklahoma Baptist. Pruitt’s time of 7.64 is close to her personal-best of 7.61. During the indoor season she will also run the 200 and on the 1,600 relay. Outdoors, she will run the 100, 200 and on the 400-meter relay team.
“Her knowing that the team is counting on her has helped her get more serious about being a leader and contributing to the team more,” sprints coach John Wise said. “She trained hard over the summer, harder than she ever trained. You weren’t sure if she really bought in all the time. She has, since last year, gotten serious.”
Moore’s speed and versatility made her one of WSU’s top scorers in conference meets. Pruitt knows the Shockers need her to improve. WSU’s women finished second in the last season’s MVC indoor meet, less than three points behind Missouri State.
“With her, I felt like I didn’t have as much pressure and maybe I didn’t push as much as I should have,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt, who finished third in the 100 in the 2011 MVC outdoor meet, points to more work in the weight room and a better diet She is lifting more weight and lifting more often, which helps her speed and strength.
“I’ve gotten a lot more lean and I’ve cut out fast food, no pop,” she said. “I’ve learned to cook, things like tilapia, so I don’t go buy junk food.”
Coaches named her one of the team captains, an honor that surprised her. She watched Moore lead by example for three seasons and she is trying to do the same. She is also talking more with her teammates, helping the younger runners and mixing with teammates from other events.
“It’s made me grow up a lot, and realize that I need to set a better example,” she said. “Even just things I say, and my attitude at practice, has been a big thing.”
The Shockers won 11 events on Thursday, 15 total for the meet.
WSU’s women’s victories were highlighted by J’Lynn Ledesma wining the women’s high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 10 inches. Tanya Friesen won the long jump at 18-10. Natalie Morerod set a personal-best with a time of 8.60 seconds inthe 60-meter hurdles. She also won the 200 meters with a personal-best time of 24.94. Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton won the mile (4:56.22) and the 3,000 (9:35.02).
For the men, Tomas Cotter won the 1,000 with a time of 2:28.21. Jake Wike won the 800 with a time of 1:55.40. Freshman Brady Johnson won the 3,000 with a time of 8:59.