Justin Veteto doesn’t needed convincing the Big Ten Conference means big time.
A sophomore hurdler for the Purdue University men’s track and field team, the former Center Grove standout experiences it on a daily basis.
“It’s a different beast to handle than high school. Challenging, to say the least,” said Veteto, who two years ago won a high school state championship in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and placed second in the 110 high hurdles.
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“The biggest adjustment is just the events are more demanding.”
Being a Division I athlete requires adjusting to higher competition, long road trips and time management between athletics and academics.
The indoor track season alone included road trips to Alabama, Iowa and Ohio. Among the destinations Purdue travels to this outdoor season are South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Nebraska and Iowa.
At 6-foot-4, 165 pounds, Veteto possesses the long stride most hurdlers would love to have.
It also benefits him in sprint work while anchoring for the Boilermakers’ 1,600-meter relay team.
As a standout at Center Grove, he helped the Trojans 1,600 relay to a fourth-place finish at the 2014 IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals at Indiana University in 3:18.95.
In December, he teamed with Kinard Rolle, Kyle Webb and Kendal Frederick to blaze a 3:13.91. The time shattered the 1,600 relay record at the Hoosier Opener at Indiana University — Purdue’s first meet of the indoor track and field season.
Veteto placed 11th in the 60-meter hurdles (8.35 seconds) at the same venue.
Other highlights from the indoor season include the 8.11 Veteto ran in posting the 10th-fastest time at the Conference Clash in Birmingham, Alabama. He won the 60 hurdles at Purdue’s own Fred Wilt Invitational in 8.06 seconds.
His time of 8.01 seconds in the 60 hurdles came at the Meyo Invite hosted by the University of Notre Dame.
As a freshman, Veteto sustained hamstring injuries in his second-ever college indoor meet and first-ever outdoor meet. He eventually redshirted his freshman season of outdoor track, which means he has freshman eligibility this season.
Purdue’s outdoor track season started last weekend at the Texas Relays in Austin. Veteto clocked a 52.5 in the trials of the 400-meter hurdles and slowed to a 53.6 in the finals.
He wasn’t satisfied with the latter time, but his coach was.
“Justin is progressing very well. The way he performed at the Texas Relays, I’m tickled,” Boilermakers’ head men’s and women’s track coach Lonnie Greene said. “I believe Justin will run a 50-point time in the 400 hurdles before the season is over.
“He’s a kid who’s got talent and makes good grades. Just a joy to work with.”
Greene has been known to refer to Veteto as “The Italian Stallion.”
Every time, Veteto laughs.
Green said Veteto is capable of advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships at the University of Oregon from June 8-11.
That’s Veteto’s goal, but there’s work to do.
As a Division I athlete, there always is.
THE VETETO FILE
Name: Justin Veteto
Family: Parents, Gary and Denise; sister, Hannah, 17; brother, Andrew, 14
Favorite TV show: “The X-Files”
Favorite food: Wings
Favorite movie: “Elf”
Favorite athlete: Andrew Luck
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts