by Scott Kindberg
JHS Graduate Ready For NCAA Indoor Track Championships
So with less than a minute remaining and the Jayhawks leading by 15 points, Sheldon Battle got up from his seat and headed up the stairs to the exits.
That’s when the booing in his section started.
That’s when Battle a Jamestown native, realized how seriously Kansas fans take their basketball.
“People were heckling me as I walked out,” Battle said with a laugh. “Man, that’s serious.”
Battle hasn’t seen many more games at one of college basketball’s most famous venues this season, but it’s not the good-natured harassment that’s kept him away.
Rather, the 2001 Jamestown High School graduate, a scholarship weight man on the Jayhawks’ track and field team, is simply too busy with his own athletic endeavors.
“By the time I get done with practice, the basketball game has already started and it’s hard to get in,” he said.
What most of the Kansas loop fans aren’t aware of, but maybe in short order they will be, is that Battle is making plenty of his own noise in his first year on the Lawrence campus.
For by virtue of his performance in the Jayhawks’ indoor season, Battle will compete this weekend in both the shot put and the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
Battle, one of six Kansas athletes to qualify for the nationals, owns the sixth-best throw in the nation in the shot (63feet, 3 ½ inches) and the eighth-best toss in the weight throw (68 – 11 ½).
"I’m excited to see what I can do,” Battle said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.
He should be.
Battle, the 2004 NCAA national champion in both the shot and the discus while at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College has done quite well in his first year at Kansas.
“I had fun in Arizona… and coming to Kansas was an easy transition,” he said. “Everything is going up and up still.”
And just like when he was setting school record, and winning state titles (two discus, one shot) during his JHS career, Battle has not fully reached his potential.
Take for example his performance last weekend at Iowa State. Already qualified for the nationals in two events, Battle – at the behest of his coach, Stanley Redwine – competed anyway, finishing first in the weight throw (66 – 10 ½ ) and second in the shot (59 – 11 ¼).
Not a bad afternoon.
But it could have been even better.
On one of his attempts in the weight throw, Battle uncorked a toss that measured 72 -10.
“My feet were in, but I lost my balance and I caught myself outside the circle,” he said.
”The foul meant the throw didn’t count, but it demonstrated the kind of talent that Battle possesses.
Entering this weekend’s, NCAA Championships, Battle has added motivation as he tries to make up for a missed opportunity at the Big 12 Conference meet in February.
Leading the shot put with a throw of 62 – 11 ½ Battle appeared to have the title wrapped up but Missouri’s Conrad Woolsey, on his final attempt, uncorked a heave of 63 – ¾ to capture the conference crown.
“I had thrown badly all meet, but on the sixth throw I took the lead,” Battle said, who also finished second in the weight throw. “But I got beat by an inch on his last throw. It was pretty heart-breaking.”
After the indoor nationals this weekend, Battle will get ready for the outdoor season where he will throw the discus, the hammer and the shot.
“I’m going to try and win all three (at the Big 12 Championships),” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”