Chadron State College track and field athletes started the meet off with a bang on Thursday, earning two First Team All-America honors, marking the 11th consecutive national meet the Eagles have had at least one top-eight finish.
Senior thrower Ashlyn Hanson was the runner-up in her hammer throw flight, the first of two, launching the implement out to a distance of 55.63 meters (182-06) in her third and final attempt of preliminaries. After all 20 competitors had thrown, she remained in seventh, advancing to the three-round final.
Her top mark, which was a season best, stood over those of two other throwers through the final three cycles, and the former Eagles volleyball player from Seward, Nebraska, finished her collegiate track and field career with a flourish.
Overall it was a great day,” said Head Track and Field Coach Riley Northrup. “I was really happy to see Ashlyn finish an All-American after being in the meet three times and being so close in the past. She definitely earned it, with all her hard work this year, and in her previous years I know she did the same. It’s great to see things payoff when they put this amount of time and energy into their sport.”
Sophomore Ashton Hallsted started the afternoon with a mark of 51.92 meters (170-04), which was her best of the day. She finished 17th, two spots ahead of the reigning indoor shot put champ Sunflower Greene, of Millersville University. Greene was ranked seventh in the hammer. Hallsted’s throw, while not enough to advance to the finals, still beat the provisional qualifying standard of 51.53 meters. The Casper, Wyoming, native was 11th in her first trip to nationals, competing indoors in the weight throw earlier this year.
“Ashton was a little disappointed, obviously,” said Northrup. “She knew technically what was going wrong with her throws but just couldn’t quite get it corrected in her three attempts. She’s young, so it’s great experience for her, and she still has another event in the disc on Saturday. She’s done a good job of reflecting briefly on today, and she now has her attention focused on that.”
Meanwhile, nearly simultaneous with the throwers, CSC freshman Isaac Grimes, of Rancho Verde, California, gave a valiant effort in the men’s long jump, grabbing his second All-America distinction of the year. After finishing sixth at the indoor meet, Grimes leapt 7.48 meters (24-06.50) on his second attempt in Charlotte, going to the nine-man final in third place overall. He held on to take the fifth place spot.
“Isaac finishing fifth was a great accomplishment,” added Northrup. Obviously he had the potential to be higher, but his hamstring was a little tight today warming up, so he was a little hesitant to push hard on the runway. He ended up passing his last attempt, because in round five he felt a little tweak, and he knew he couldn’t bring his best speed, so it wasn’t worth it. He’s young though, and it’s going to be pretty special what he does in the coming years.”
Wayne State College’s Michaela Dendinger was the women’s hammer throw champion at 64.70 meters (212-03). The men’s long jump winner was Brian Huber of Minnesota State-Moorhead.
The Eagles’ four team points on the men’s side and two on the women’s account for 11th and 21st-place ties, respectively, at the end of Thursday. Grand Valley State University led the men’s standings, while Azusa Pacific was atop the women’s leaderboard.
Hallsted will get another shot to perform on Saturday, when she enters the discus throw, scheduled for 2 p.m. MT.