SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Former USD track and field athletes are taking their sport to the big stage this summer both nationally and internationally.
Chris Nilsen, Ethan Bray, Emily Grove, Lara Boman, Ben Hammer and Zack Anderson are all former USD track and field athletes with the same thing on their minds — the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“All of these athletes, I’ve known all of them since they’ve got here as Freshman or their first year here at USD,” David Herbster, USD athletic director said. “So to be able to watch their careers for so long and then ultimately be able to see them perform on that stage, I know for me personally, it’s a great deal of pride.”
Earlier this week, Chris Nilsen stamped his ticket to Tokyo to compete in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Men’s pole vaulting.
Lara Boman, a hammer thrower, and Ben Hammer, a discus thrower, both threw their personal best records in Oregon and are moving on to the finals of the Olympic Trials.
“It’s a mix of emotions,” Lucky Huber, director of Track & Field and Cross Country at USD said. “You’re happy that they’re here and then you’re maybe sad that they don’t make the Olympic team and then Chris makes the Olympic team, so that’s very happy. And then you have somebody that doesn’t do so well, you know. But it’s such a high level of competition that that’s to be expected,”
Huber made the trip out to Oregon to watch the Trials, but he wasn’t the only one.
Four other former throwers for the USD Track and Field team road tripped to see their former teammates compete on this national stage.
“I know how hard these athletes train for this and what it takes and what it means to them and how they dedicate so much time and thoughts and everything to do this,” Molly Sheppard, a former thrower for USD said.
“We want kids from South Dakota to realize that this is a goal they should have. And that’s part of what the University of South Dakota is. We’re setting that expectation,” Huber said.
Four other former USD athletes are also competing in the Olympic Trials for their home countries in Jamaica, Estonia, France and Italy.