For Michigan track and field senior Regine Carruthers, shooting for the stars never seemed too tall of a task, because there were always plenty close by.
Growing up amongst such future Olympians as Marion Jones and Inger Miller, there was always someone better for Carruthers to look up to. Someone older, and on that higher level that she so much dreamed of being on.
As a young girl, she was able to see how much hard work and discipline came with being a competitive athlete. Deciding to run track and field might have been just a natural reaction.
She showed an interest in track because her best friend, Malika Edmonson, ran. Barbara Farrell Edmonson, a former 1972 Olympian in the Hall of Fame for the 100-meter dash and Malika”s mom, encouraged the two girls to run.
At the age of seven, Carruthers started running for the West Valley Eagles the same team Jones ran for in 1987 and 1988. Both athletes are from Inglewood, Calif.
“We were from the same area and she was going to high school when I was eight and nine years old,” Carruthers said. “We all ran different divisions, so we all ran together and practiced together and traveled together.”
In addition, to her close proximity to future Olympian Marion Jones, Carruthers came into contact with other world-class athletes. The team traveled around the nation to places such as North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida. This gave Carruthers a chance to compete with athletes outside the California area who were in similar types of enrichment programs.
Events, accomplishments, broken records
“No matter how long you run, you still have that desire to compete that competitive edge. You want to get on the track and run fast,” Carruthers said.
And run fast she does. Carruthers is known for her incredible speed and strides. She has competed in the 600-meter dash and 800-meter run, but the 400-meter dash is her best event.
Still, she declares that the 600-meter dash is her favorite event. Part of her preference for this event derives from the strategy that goes into the run. It is not an easy race, because competitors have to think during the event about how to pace themselves.
The 600-meter combines elements of both the 400- and 800-meter events. In the 400-meter, no thinking is involved runners attempt to come out strong from the beginning and continue a sprint to the end. Anyone who wins the 600 needs that same kind of physical strength.
The 800-meter run involves more stamina, but the pace is slower. The 600-meter also requires the mental abilities to succeed in the run.
It was a good decision by Michigan coach James Henry to move Carruthers to this event because she has stepped up. Earlier in the year, during the indoor season, she won the 600-meter dash at the Central Michigan Intercollegiate. At Big Tens she finished runner-up in the 600 with a time of 1:32.73 her personal best. She was named to the second team All-Big Ten for her performance.
Carruthers has many advantages, but litheness is not one of them. At practices before running starts, the team engages in several sprint drills which requires flexibility. They work on their running technique and stretch their muscles.
“Most of my teammates are pretty limber,” Carruthers said. “When it”s time to stretch, I don”t do the drills right. I don”t have any coordination, they think it”s funny and laugh at me.”
Despite the humor of her teammates, Carruthers has worked hard to improve in this area. Since freshman year she has been working on being a less noticeable spectacle during the drills.
Best friends and teammates
Their friendship grew out of living together. For the past four years, Carruthers has spent plenty of quality time with teammate Tameka Craig. What she likes best about Craig is her sense of selfless giving. No matter what, she always seems to be there.
“When I”m having a down day, she”ll be able to crack a joke and pick me up,” Carruthers said. “If I”m having an exam, she slips a note under my door and wishes me good luck on my exam.”
Craig”s openness and warmth makes her friendship very valuable but one thing does concern Carruthers.
“Craig puts everybody before herself and sometimes that”s not a good thing, but you always know she has your best interest (in mind),” Carruthers said.
Due to their close relationship, Carruthers is assured they”ll stay in contact throughout the years. She looks forward to the day when they”ll have families and are still a part of each other”s lives.
“That”s one person I won”t ever have to wonder 10 or 15 years from now what she”s doing. I”ll know that we”ll stay in contact with each other, and no matter how far apart we live, we”ll always visit at least once a year.”
Teammate and competitor
Trying to keep on good terms is sometimes a strain on the friendship between Carruthers and Craig. Not only are they teammates, roommates and friends, but they are competitors as well. Carruthers and Craig both compete against each other in a trio of events, which puts an added stressor on their relationship before and after meets.
“When we get up in the morning the day of the meet, we don”t speak,” Carruthers said. “The only conversation we have is, “What time are we leaving?” Then we eat breakfast separately although we live in the same house. Once at the track and field building, we go to our own separate corners, away from each other.”
Establishing a friendship outside the indoor track season has kept their relationship going. No matter who is better on a particular day, what”s special is that they will stay friends. On the bright side, however, is the outdoor season where they no longer compete against each other. For this change, Craig switches to the 400-meter hurdles, while Carruthers continues to run the 400-meter dash. This gives them a chance to reestablish that open line of communication, which should be useful since they also room together when the team travels.
One thing Carruthers is always perfect in is maintaining her sense of style. From week to week she consistently wears the same exact clothes.
“I have to wear the same short-sleeve shirt with the same long-sleeved white shirt and white socks, decorated with little yellow starts on them. It gets rough when you have two-day meets,” she said.
This unwavering superstition could be the secret behind Carruthers many wins and good luck.
From past to future
Reflecting back on the past, Carruthers is surprised to look upon Marion Jones as an Olympian. She always remembered her as being a good athlete, and during that time they were all just runners. Since they were in different age groups they did not have much contact with each other. But, when Jones made the Olympics, Carruthers was inspired.
“It”s kind of bizarre to hear people mention her,” Carruthers said. “She was just down to earth like everybody else. Now she”s a role model who had made it to the top in track and field. She was the focal point of the Olympics.”
Also remaining in the picture is her childhood friend, Malika Edmonton. Both friends still run, but Edmonton chose to remain in California and go to Southern Cal. They still keep in touch and although they”ve been separate from each other for awhile, both athletes keep each other posted on their success. Especially in the 400-meter dash, an event they both run.
Carruthers has already begun planning for the future. A graduate in pharmacy, she completed her first degree in three years. She is now in her first year of graduate school for pharmacy.
“That was always my goal,” Carruthers said. “It forced me to focus. It”s a little bit of stress, but an added accomplishment to be able to compete on that level and produce work.”
Carruthers demonstrates that she has that self-drive to achieve success. But the question is, where will she go from here?
Track has always been a part of her life, so why should she quit now? With a season of eligibility left, she”ll continue to run. Then it”s on to pursue the next big dream of her life being a pharmacist.