Lawrence Journal World

Battle has football past, but career in track

On crisp, fall Saturdays when Kansas University’s football team takes the field, Sheldon Battle gets the urge to put on the pads and hit somebody.

“It’s always in the back of my mind what football could have been or how much fun I had. I love what I’m doing, (but) it’s there. Everybody has those dreams and visions,” Battle, the Jayhawks’ senior track thrower, said.

The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder – who had four sacks and 12 tackles from the defensive end position in New York’s Section Six championship game his senior year at Jamestown High School – declined scholarship offers from Syracuse and some Mid-America Conference schools to concentrate on a sport in which he has Olympic potential.

“Being a kid, you want the glamour sport,” said Battle, who started playing football in seventh grade and developed into an all-stater high schooler.

“You see football every day. You don’t hear about the throwers. It was always a football thing. In high school, I had some throws comparable to favorable throws in the country on the discus. I went to track. It’s a track thing that got me to where I am today.”

Battle will throw in the Gold Zone invitational shot put at 3 p.m. Saturday and the discus at 4 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Though he may not emerge victorious in fields full of elite competition, Battle is a contender.

KU’s school record-holder placed second in the shot at last year’s NCAA championships, where he also notched 11th in the discus.

“Last year I PR’ed in the shot,” Battle said, referring to his personal records. “I have higher expectations of myself this year. I want to go in there, do the best I can and solidify myself as one of the better throwers in the United States.”

He hopes the Relays attracts the 30,000 fans meet director Tim Weaver has stated is the goal.

“You want people out there supporting you,” Battle said. “People around the community might not know you, but they know you as a Jayhawk, and they give you support no matter who they are. The overall atmosphere of this meet gives you a little extra adrenaline and excitement and helps you have a good performance.”

Battle, who was last year’s Big 12 Outdoor performer of the year, hopes to repeat and perhaps emerge as NCAA shot winner this season.

“I guess it’s a goal. I don’t want to put in my mind only, ‘National title, national title,”’ Battle said. “I do want to build to that.”

And the Olympics?

“It’s on your mind,” Battle conceded. “That’s two years away. It can’t be my only focus. That would only distract me. It would be a great thing to represent my country. Maybe the summer before – then it’d be a great thing to focus on. I have to make a name for myself now.”

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