These are heady times for Isaac Ingram, and not just because he’s become the latest in a long line of all-MVC throwers in the SIU track program.
The senior from Harrisburg is a Philadelphia Eagles fan, dating back to the days of Donovan McNabb, and his team is in next Sunday’s Super Bowl opposite the New England Patriots in Minneapolis.
“We haven’t been back in a while,” Ingram said, referencing the 2004 Super Bowl loss to New England. “It’s awesome, amazing.”
Some would say the same about Ingram’s performance the last couple of years. One could unveil even stronger adjectives, given the point from where he started and how sudden the career arc trended upward since the start of his junior year.
Ingram didn’t come to SIU out of Harrisburg, where he was a first team All-SIRR Ohio offensive lineman. He went to McKendree to play football, but that lasted just a year.
“I loved it up there,” Ingram said of McKendree, “but I wanted to get a bigger, better feel for a school and switch it up. I wanted to come here and go to track, throw again and see where it would lead me.”
As a sophomore, it led him down a wandering path. He had some success indoors, winning an event at Eastern Illinois and placing third at the MVC Indoor Championships to earn all-conference honors, but there was no hint of dominance.
Prior to his junior year, Ingram sat down with another Harrisburg product, SIU assistant coach J.C. Lambert. One of the most accomplished throwers in school history, Lambert finished second in the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships in the weight throw.
“I figured I had two more years,” Ingram said. “I decided to really grind it out and see where it takes me. J.C. has influenced me a lot. Seeing that he was an (five time) All-American is amazing. I’m just trying to achieve one.”
Ingram started seeing results quickly. The hammer and weight were traveling a lot farther than they once did. He won three events during the indoor season, including the MVC meet with a toss of just over 69 ½ feet.
But the big breakthrough came at the MVC Outdoor Championships. His toss of 199 feet, 3 inches netted Ingram first place in the hammer throw and earned him a trip to the NCAA West Prelims, where he placed 30th with a career-best throw of 199-11.
“It was definitely surreal,” Ingram said. “It felt good that all the hard work was starting to pay off.”
It continues to pay off in his senior year. Last weekend, Ingram crashed through another important barrier at Vanderbilt. He flung the weight 70 feet, 3 ½ inches, marking the first time in his career he’s topped 70 feet.
He feels the feat could lead to even longer throws.
“It felt really good to get the monkey off my back,” he said. “Now I don’t have to worry about hitting it. It was long overdue.”
Ingram’s goals for the year’s remainder are simple: Become an All-American, make it to the NCAA Championships in the weight throw and win the MVC title.
His goals post-college are equally well-defined.
“I want to dabble in my major, criminal justice,” he said. “I didn’t see myself doing anything else, and have always loved law enforcement. There are lots of jobs you can find, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”