The University of South Dakota track and field athletes and swimmers have been setting and achieving significant goals this season.
The biggest of these goals is the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Currently, five USD athletes are in the process of gaining eligibility to represent the United State of America in the thirtieth edition of the worldwide competition.
For senior swimmer Lizz Hoffman, competing for a chance to be in the 2012 London Games has been a goal that dates back to the end of last season.
Hoffman’s success in the pool over the last two years gave the Eureka, S.D., native the confidence she needed to carry out the dream of becoming an Olympian, process USD swimming and diving head coach Jason Mahowald supported one hundred percent.
“(Mahowald) and I mutually decided that it was something I wanted to shoot for,” Hoffman said. “It has been a whirlwind ever since.”
Hoffman will join fellow USD swimmers seniors Dane Van Arkel, Thad Stoddard, Terry Rolfe and junior swimmer Shannon Moceri at the Columbus Grand Prix March 9-11 in Columbus, Ohio. If successful, the swimmers will earn a spot to compete in the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb. The event will begin on June 25 and end July 2.
“You got everyone from Michael Phelps (to) everyone who wants to make the Olympics,” Hoffman said, “It’s an experience just to go.”
Hoffman said in order to be competitive at the upcoming meet in Columbus, Ohio, a positive attitude must be a key priority.
“I just tried to up my motivation and dedication level,” Hoffman said. “In order to swim at that level, you have to be 100 percent dedicated to come to practice with the attitude that you want to improve.”
USD swimmers have not been the only athletes with impressive times this winter season, a handful of USD track and field athletes have been setting records of their own over a wide variety of events.
Junior mid-distance runner Casey Shade recently broke the school record in the 600 meter run at the Jack Johnson Minnesota Classic on Jan. 20 with a time of 1:19.82. a record that dates back several decades.
“It felt really good to get my record amongst the athletes here at (USD),” Shade said.
Shade’s road to his record-breaking performance not only involved working harder, but also planning ahead.
“It comes from what you did months before,” Shade said. “Being consistent, staying healthy and then having the overall confidence of standing on the line and saying that you can do it.”
Shade said that he hopes to break future records in other events such as the distance medley and the 4 by 400-meter relay.
Men’s track and field head coach Dave Gottsleben said he is confident Shade could make it to the national meet and break the 800 meter outdoor record.
“Casey’s an extremely confident young man, an extremely talented young man and an extremely hard-working young man,” Gottsleben said.
Senior jumper Kenna Wolter also broke the USD record in the triple jump at the Frank Sevigne Invite in Lincoln, Neb. on Feb. 3 with a jump of 41.25 inches.
This marked the second-time Wolter set the record, having earned a claim to the school record in 2010 with a previous mark of 40-8 and three-fourths inches.
Wolter not only broke the triple-jump record for the second time in her career, but also earned first Summit League Athlete of the Week the following week.
The track athletes have gotten a lot of support from their coaches as well. Coaches Dave Gottsleben and Lucky Huber both expressed joy in the recent accomplishments of the team.
Head women’s track and field coach Lucky Huber believes that having athletes breaking records has a positive impact on other athletes, which in turn creates a “ripple effect.”
“It shows their teammates that the recipe’s there,” Huber said.