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South Dakota School of Mines track team took six competitors to the NAIA National Indoor Championships this past weekend in Johnson City, Tenn., where the Hardrockers represented the school very well with two All American honorees as well as national title winner
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. --- The South Dakota School of Mines track team took six competitors to the NAIA National Indoor Championships this past weekend in Johnson City, Tenn., where the Hardrockers represented the school very well with two All American honorees as well as national title winner.
“I was very pleased with the trip,” said Hardrocker head coach Jerry Schafer. “All the kids stepped up and competed.”
Shannon Hellman, a sophomore and Rapid City native, ran three competitive races in the 60-meter high hurdles and came away with a national title and All American honors.
After clocking the fastest time in both the prelims and semifinals last Friday, Hellman recorded the fastest time of her career in the hurdle finals Saturday, winning the event for the national title and earning All American status in the process.
Hellman won the race in a time of 8.63, which also set a new indoor school record. Sophomore Laytoya Heath of Lindenwood University (Missouri) was a close second at 8.65 and Natalie Kent of Missouri Baptist University was third at 8.66.
“Shannon was able to run through the prelims and semifinals without a lot of pressure on her,” Schafer said. “But we knew that the finals would be a tough race.”
Hellman is the first national track champion, indoor or outdoor, that South Dakota Mines has ever had.
“Having Shannon as our first ever national champion makes it that much more special,” Schafer added.
Hellman also competed in the women's 200-dash prelims where she took fourth in her heat in a time of 26.00 but failed to make semifinals.
Hardrocker senior Jake Donnelly was also honored as an All American after taking sixth place in the finals of the men's 200 dash Saturday. Donnelly finished in a time of 21.91. He was able to earn the seventh spot in the semifinals and moved up a position in the finals.
“Jake had a phenomenal run (in the finals),” Schafer said. “He knew it would be tough to make the finals. They take the Top 8 and he was the last one to make it.”
Heading into the race, Donnelly had the 23rd best time. He improved by leaps and bounds to earn his first ever All American honors. His finals and semifinals times (21.99) where Donnelly’s best two of his career indoors. The Electrical Engineering major also set a new school indoor record during the race.
Chandler Caldwell finally broke the 15-foot barrier in the pole vault. The Thornton, Colo., native vaulted a personal-best 15-feet-3-inches to take 12th place overall. That vault wasn't good enough to place him in the Top 6, but it was good enough to break his own indoor school record.
“Chandler just missed at 15-9 in his first two attempts (at that height),” Schafer added. “If he would have cleared that height he would have probably placed in the Top 6 and been an All American. But still, he looked good and he vaulted well.”
Caldwell’s 15-3 vault breaks his previous school record and is the best all time vault at South Dakota School of Mines, indoors or outdoors. Senior Eric Voorhees gave a great effort in the men's shot put Saturday, throwing a 50-11 for 14th place overall. The Civil/Environmental Engineering major automatically qualified for the event that was one of the most competitive of the NAIA meet.
“He had a decent national meet,” Schafer said. ���He was just a little off his personal best with his throw at Nationals.”
In the men's 60 high hurdles prelims, SDSM&T's Tyler Flattum, a junior from Bristol, S.D., clocked a 8.61 and missed qualifying for the semifinal round by 2 tenths of a second and I n the men's 800 run, Hardrocker senior Shane Hague, from New Underwood clocked a time of 1:57.64 seconds to take sixth place in his heat and also just missed out on making finals.
“Shane and Tyler both gave great performances,” Schafer said. “Both failed to get to finals but they still both ran great races and finished well.”
Schafer also praised the efforts of Hardrocker assistant track coach Beth Honaker, who worked with the sprinters and hurdlers everyday during practice.
“I want to thank Beth for working with Shannon and Tyler and Jake,” Schafer said. “Beth did a great job of working with them and preparing them for Nationals.”
The Hardrocker thinclads now shift gears and head right into the outdoor season this weekend, traveling to Boulder, Colo., for the Colorado University Invite.
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