The Post-Journal

Battle Headed To U.S. Indoor Championships

Sheldon Battle admits that he doesn’t often look too far ahead. It’s not in his nature.

“I don’t like forecasting,” the Jamestown native said.

But as he nears his spring graduation from Kansas University as one of the top throwers in school history, Battle has plenty on his figurative plate to consider – like turning pro.

“Things are going OK,” he said in a telephone interview from Lawrence, Kan., last week. “It’s more stressful now because I have to go on my own, find representation and see what I can get.”

But the easy-going 2001 Jamestown High School graduate hasn’t let the off-the-track logistics get in the way of his performances this winter.

In fact, Battle has won three of the four meets he’s entered during the indoor season with throws consistently in the 66-foot range, including a top toss of 66-2 1/4, which places him fourth among Americans.

Battle, who has been competing unattached – he is out of eligibility with the Jayhawks – will face Christian Cantwell (71-9 ½), Reese Hoffa (71-4 ¼) and Dan Taylor (70-9 ¼) next weekend at the U.S. Indoor Championships at the Reggie Lewis Track and athletic Center in Boston.

The championships will be televised on ESPN2 from 6-8 p.m., a week from today.

Cantwell, Hoffa and Taylor own 13 of the 14 best throws in the world this year.

“I think I could throw in the high 60s or so,” Battle said. “I don’t like to throw out a number because I might jinx it. But I could throw a personal best and maybe finish in the top three. They’re not invincible. Maybe they’ll have an off-day and I’ll have a great day.”

Great days have been rather a regular thing for Battle since he left Jamestown more than five years ago. A former NJCAA All-American at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College and a six-time NCAA Division I All-American at Kansas, Battle, now 23, has built quite a resume that he hopes will continue to grow.

Among the meets on his calendar this year are the World Championships, which will be held in August.

And even though he doesn’t look well into the future, he can’t help but have his sights set on next year’s Olympic Trials and beyond.

But that’s a ways away.

Of most immediate concern is Boston.

“It’s pretty important,” said Battle, who said he would be sporting a Chautauqua Striders jersey when he competes next week. “I don’t need to go super far. I just need to put together a solid performance and not take a step backward, but a step forward.”

Battle will also be taking steps soon to secure an agent.

“It’s great to have an agent, but if you don’t produce, it’s back to square one,” he said. “Hopefully, it works out for the best.”

So far so good.

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