When Ella Robinson finished her track season with at the State Finals on June 2, she knew her running career was done — and was perfectly content with that.
But when a late opportunity came about to run at Purdue, Robinson changed her mind and now the recent Zionsville graduate will join the Boilermakers track and field team.
"I am incredibly excited for this opportunity," Robinson said Monday evening. "I really didn't plan on running in college, and I even felt that way going up for my visit. But after going up there, I really did a complete 180 and I couldn't be more excited."
Robinson said that talking to the coaches at Purdue, namely her event coach Miles Smith and head coach Norbert Elliot, that she really started to think that her running career wasn't done.
"There philosophy on everything was great," Robinson said. "Track is about more than the competition to them, they want to build a family and have a strong support system for everyone. I was able to talk to some academic advisers in both athletics and the school and they were able to give me some specific plans on how things could work with my course load and things like that."
Robinson was already planning on attending Purdue to study agricultural engineering and will be part of the Purdue Honors College.
She said one thing that was easy about talking with the Purdue coaches is that she was already set on going to the school and they are willing to work with athletes with their class schedules.
"Academics 100 percent come first," Robinson said. "Purdue has a world-class agricultural engineering program which I would be going to either when. When I was originally looking at some other schools, I was a little hesitant because I would be picking a school for the team and not the other programs. But I had already decided to go to Purdue for engineering and now am excited to run track as well."
Robinson was the state champion in the 300-meter hurdles this spring, running 42.05, the third fastest time in state history.
She also was part of the winning 3,200-meter relay team at the Hoosier State Relays in March.
After missing almost her entire junior year to injury, she saw big improvements throughout the season, dropping nearly two seconds in the final month of the year.
"I am excited to continue my track career in an entirely different atmosphere," Robinson said. "I know I have a lot of room for growth in a lot of different aspects of track. It is going to push me a little out of my comfort zone, I'm not going to be one of the fastest girls on the team right away and there are going to be girls more athletic than I am, but I am excited to push myself."
Robinson said Purdue will primarily run the 400-meter hurdles, though she said she is open to running other things as well.
She was versatile at Zionsville, running sprints in her early years and ranging to 800s her senior year.
Robinson said that one thing she is excited for at Purdue is focusing on just one event and seeing how she can improve.
"Track is a lot different in college," Robinson said. "Just from the difference in weights programs and focusing on just one event, focusing on the strategy of that event and working with other people who know how to race it. I know I have a lot of room to grow and I am excited to get started."
Robinson said that when reflecting on her time at Zionsville, she is going to remember the girls and coaches on the team more than any particular race or meet.
"I am just going to remember the team and some of the crazy practices we had," Robinson said. "Like one practice we had a big water balloon fight. Things like that are what I will remember and all the unique personalities that made us a team — athletes and coaches alike. It was like one big quilt, we were all different colors and brought something different, but when we came together it was something really special."