The Arizona Republic

Big man fighting the Battle within

MCC field star must ‘calm down’

Sheldon Battle’s defensive end physique is intimidating.

But watch battle nervously pace around a track before he is about to compete, and the intimidation factor disappears.

“I start thinking too much,” said Battle, Mesa Community College’s All-American shot put and discus thrower. “I need to calm down and simplify things. I tend to overanalyze.”

Battle must have calmed down this past weekend while competing at the National Junior College Athletic Association Track and field Championships in Texas.

The sophomore won the shot put and discus titles and finished second in the hammer throw. He also won the Outstanding Performer award.

“Sheldon is probably one of the best athletes to come through MCC in the past 20 years,” said battle’s coach, Jay Olson, who just wrapped up his 33rd season at MCC.

Battle almost didn’t get to compete in Texas.

A hamstring injury sidelined Battle for a period of time, two weeks before nationals. But he came back to win the shot put with a 59-foot, 10-inch throw. Battle’s first place throw went 4 feet farther than the second-place finisher – a dominating performance for that event.

The 20-year-old won the discus title with a 180-foot, 2-inch throw. His personal best, 187-2, would have placed him eighth in last year’s NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships.

Battle’s personal best in the shot, 61-11 1/2, would have placed him seventh in last year’s NCAA DI championships.

Battle probably wouldn’t have left such a big impression at MCC if he hadn’t been forced to quit football.

Growing up in Jamestown, N.Y., Battle helped his high school team win the state football title as a senior. He finished his senior season with 13 sacks and had a scholarship offer from Syracuse University, but three concussions in three separate seasons forced doctors to tell Battle the bad news. With football out of the picture, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound battle was left with a track and field career.

“I love both sports equally,” Battle said.

After attending the University of Buffalo for a year, battle decided he needed to get away.

He was recommended to Olson who harnessed Battle’s raw talent and developed it into a Division I athlete. Battle is now headed to the University of Kansas to train under a former MCC track and field star, Doug Reynolds.

“Keep an eye out for him (Battle),” Olson said. “He’ll qualify for the next Olympic trials.”

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