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South Dakota School of Mines indoor track will be sending six Hardrockers to Johnson City, Tenn., Thursday for the NAIA National Indoor Championship, the most the school has ever had compete at the national indoor event
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines indoor track will be sending six Hardrockers to Johnson City, Tenn., Thursday for the NAIA National Indoor Championship --- the most the school has ever had compete at the national indoor event.
“This is the most people we’ve had at an indoor championship. I feel we are prepared as we can possibly be,” said Schafer. “We look forward to representing the school at the national level.”
The Hardrocker athletes making the trip are: seniors Eric Voorhees (shot put), Jake Donnelly (200-meter dash and Shane Hague (800 run), juniors Chandler Caldwell (pole vault) and Tyler Flattum (60 hurdles) and sophomore Shannon Hellman (60 hurdles and 200 dash). Hellman, Voorhees and Caldwell earned automatic berths to the national meet while Donnelly, Hague and Flattum were able to attend as the Hardrockers’ top provisional qualifiers.
Hellman is the only ‘Rocker that is making the return trip. As a freshman, the Rapid City native took sixth in the 60 hurdles. Heading into this year’s event, Hellman is five hundredths a second faster then her best time last year and owns a share of the fastest mark at 8.11 in the 55 hurdles (converted to 8.68 for 60 hurdles).
“She is much stronger than she was last year at this time. She might not necessarily be faster, but she is stronger,” Schafer said. “That was evident in her four-event performance at the conference meet.”
At the Dakota Athletic Conference meet, Hellman earned female MVP honors and Outstanding Track athlete of the meet after winning the 55 hurdles, 200 dash, 400 dash and placing fifth in the 55 dash. She set school records in the 55, 200 and 400 dashes and a new DAC record in the hurdles.
“Because she is stronger, I think she can run faster in the hurdles as well as the other events,” the coach added.
Along with the 60 hurdles, Hellman will be running the 200 dash at the NAIA meet. Hellman clocked the 17th fastest time in that event at 25.83.
“The conference performance and the way she’s been running all season, leads us to believe that she can handle those events,” Schafer said. “Last year we were hesitant to put her in two events at Nationals because we weren’t sure of her ability to (recover) from one race to the another.”
Voorhees will be making his first appearance at the Indoor Nationals. He competed in the Outdoor Nationals as a junior and hopes to draw on that experience to do well this weekend.
It won’t be easy for the Gillette, Wyo., native as the field is pretty loaded in the shot put. Black Hills State has had two throwers ranked in the Top 2 nationally all season long in Tyg Long and Eric Flores, and just recently a thrower from Cedarville University (Ohio) recorded a throw seven and a half inches longer. In the final seedings, Voorhees has the 14th best throw at 52-feet-1.25-inches.
“It’s a very competitive event,” Schafer said of the shot put. “Probably more so (this season) than it has been for a couple years. For Eric to have a chance at placing, he’s going to have to have his best throws in order to make it to the finals and a shot at All American. We feel he’s got a good a shot as anybody.” NAIA awards All American status to the Top 6 placers in each event.
Caldwell, from Thornton, Colo., earned an automatic berth in the pole vault by having the 16th best vault in the nation (tied with five others) at 15-0. The original automatic mark for the event was 15-6, a height that Caldwell has been flirting with all season, but couldn’t manage to clear --- in competition.
“He has been close to the 15-6 automatic qualifier all year and he has been over 16-feet in practice. I know he is capable of making the big vault,” Schafer said. “Chandler will need to have his best vaults in order to place. He will have to clear 16 feet if he wants to place.”
Donnelly has the 31st fastest time in the 200 dash with a time of 22.54 seconds. The Elk Point native also will make his first appearance at the National Indoor Championships after placing seventh last year at the NAIA outdoor meet.
“He’s very capable of running fast enough to make the finals,” Schafer said. “Jake has the experience to run fast and get to the finals.”
Donnelly won the 200 at the DAC meet which was also where he earned the provisional time.
Flattum, of Bristol, S.D., will compete in his first national event, having the 39th best time in the 60 hurdles clocking an 8.56.
“He will have to have his personal-best races in order to advance and make it to the finals. But he is running very, very well. He’s steadily improved all season long,” Schafer said.
After winning one of the best races of the conference meet, Hague will also make his first appearance at the national venue. Hague, from New Underwood, has the 46th best time in the 800 with a 1:57.24. The conference race took on a national caliber performance as Hague inched out a BHSU runner along with a SDM teammate to win the event.
“He is capable of running faster than he did at Black Hills. He will have to have great race for him to advance to the finals,” Schafer said. “He will have to run the same type of race (as the conference) in the semis at Nationals in order to make it to the finals. Shane has put in the work and he’s very intense and capable of advancing to the final round.”
The meet is slated to start Friday with prelims and semifinal races and continue Saturday with the finals.
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