The Post-Journal

Battle’s Stands Out In Big Way At Big 12 Championships

JHS Graduate Named Most Outstanding Male Athlete After Two Wins And A Second

David Reinhardt, the program director for the Chautauqua Striders, wasn’t about to make any bold predictions late last summer.

So when Sheldon Battle left Jamestown for the University of Kansas, Reinhardt was perfectly happy to be low key in his expectations for the Striders alumnus.

“We were all just thinking this junior year would be a transition year,” Reinhardt said.

Some transition.

Last weekend Battle continued a string of breakout performances for the Jayhawks, this time at the Big 12 championships where he was named the most outstanding male athlete after winning the hammer throw and the discus and finishing second in the shot put.

His 28 points were the best of any of the participants at the three-day meet at the R.V. Christian Track on the Kansas State campus.

“Usually over the course of three or four days, three events take a lot out of you,” Reinhardt said. “(But) he’s well ahead of where I thought he’d be.”

Battle claimed his second title of the meet in the discus (188-10) on Sunday after winning the hammer throw (210) on Friday and placing second in the shot put (63-10 1/2) on Saturday.

“That was a goal,” Battle said of his near-sweep of the throwing events. “My coach and I had a plan from the beginning of the year and we thought we had a chance to do it. …We had high hopes, had high ranks and if I produced, bigger throws would produce victory.”

On Friday, Battle turned in his best hammer throw on his final effort to hold off Issar Yazhbin of Nebraska (206-11). Battle’s 210-foot toss is the second best in Kansas history, trailing only Jayhawks legend Scott Russell in the record books.

“Once I let it go, I actually jumped a few times in the ring,” Battle said. “It was pretty exciting to step up and hit a big throw.”

On Saturday, Battle took the lead in the shot on his last throw, but Brian Robison of Texas stepped up and immediately recorded a toss of 64-7 3/4. Battle entered the championship ranked first in the Big 12 in that event (64-8 1/4).

Finally, on Sunday, Battle completed an amazing weekend by winning the discus (188-10) with a throw two feet better than the second place finisher, Jamal Cann of Iowa State (186-20).

“I always wanted to come in and have a big impact on the Big 12,” said Battle, who placed second in both the weight and the shot at the indoor championships in February, “I don’t get into thinking I’m going to win. I want to keep that cool and not set myself up for something that doesn’t happen.”

While Reinhardt couldn’t have predicted Battle would take the Big 12 by storm so quickly, he was very much aware of how the former Jamestown High School star has made a habit of rising to the occasion. It started as far back as middle school, continued at JHS where he was a state champion in the shot and discus, and followed him to Mesa (ARIZ.) Community College where he was the NJCCA champion in both events in 2004. “At pretty much every level he has just upped his game to the ultimate,” Reinhardt said. “I don’t know where the limit is and what he’ll do.”

After taking this weekend off from competition, Battle will travel to the Midwest regional meet at the University of Oklahoma on May 27-28. If he finished in the top five, he’ll automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., June 8-11.

“In the meantime, Battle, 21, was preparing for final exams this week, which will end a memorable second semester in Lawrence, Kan.

“If you look through the records,” Reinhardt said, ‘a lot of the collegians who get scholarships are European. You look at the rankings and he’s going to be in the top 12 or 15 (Americans) and he’s still learning.

“He’s got all the tools.”

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