Chadron State College’s two exceptional throwers are expected to be strong contenders to earn medals this weekend at the NCAA Division II National Indoor Track and Field Championships at Virginia Beach, Va.
Kyla Sawvell, a senior from Wall, S.D., will compete in both the shot put and the weight throw, and Daniel Reynolds, a junior from Granby, Colo., will throw the weight. The pair along with Head Coach Seth Mitschke and Throws Coach Lizzie Virgl left Tuesday for the meet.
The weight throw for both men and women will be Friday afternoon. The women’s shot put is Saturday afternoon. There are 18 qualifiers in the women’s weight throw and 16 in the remaining two events.
Both Sawvell and Reynolds have consistently thrown well all season, avoided injuries and have marks that put them among the national contenders. Reynolds has won his pet event at all nine meets this season, while Sawvell has won the weight each of the seven times she’s competed and also has won the shot at all but two of those meets.
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Sawvell’s season-best weight throw of 20.10 meters, or 65-feet, 11 ½ inches, ranks fourth nationally, and her best shot put of 15.49 meters, or 50-10, is fifth.
Reynolds is tied for sixth on the men’s weight throw list at 20.51 meters, or 67-feet, 3 ½ inches, which is the Chadron State record.
Sawvell’s career best weight throw, which was at the recent RMAC Championships, is third best all-time at CSC behind only Mel Herl’s 71-10 heave in 2017 and Ashley Hallsted’s 66-5 in 2019. Both of them were RMAC champions and national placewinners those seasons.
Sawvell’s shot put best at the recent RMAC Meet has been exceeded on the CSC list only by Herl’s 51-9 mark that won the gold medal at the 2017 National Meet.
A transfer from Black Hills State last fall, Sawvell has competed in both of her events at the National Indoor Meets each of the past two years. She also was qualified in 2020, but that meet was cancelled by COVID. She won the bronze medal by finishing third in the shot with a throw of 49-4 ¼ at the 2021 nationals.
The women’s weight throw leader entering this year’s showdown is Kyria Moore of Adelphia University in New York at 68-3 ½, a graduate transfer from Stony Brook, a Division I school also in New York.
Second on the list is another Nebraska entry, Brooklyn Chipps of Wayne State, at 66-11 ½. She’s followed by Judith Essmiah of Grand Valley in Michigan at 66-5 ¾ and Sawvell’s 65-11 ½.
Essmiah won the weight throw at nationals last year with a mark of 67-1 ¼. Zoe Pentecost of Indianapolis University, who was seventh, is the only other 2022 placewinner among the top qualifiers this year.
The women’s shot put leader going to Virginia Beach is Lexi Hurst of Minnesota State at Mankato at 16.91 meters, or 55-5 ¾. She’s followed by Trista Fintel of Findlay University in Ohio at 51-10, Emma Richards of Grand Valley at 51-9 ¾ and Katherine Higgins of Colorado State-Pueblo, who edged Sawvell for the gold medal and the record at the recent RMAC Championships with a mark of 51- ¾. Sawvell was the silver medalist with her career best of 50-11 that puts her fifth on the natonal chart.
The top three finishers in the women’s shot at last year’s nationals were seniors, while Richards was fourth at 50 feet even. Higgins, then a freshman, was 11th at 46-7 ¼.
None of the top four placers in the men’s weight throw at nationals a year ago is returning, but the No. 5 finisher, Peyton Barton of Missouri Southern, it at leader on this year’s list with a mark of 72-4 ½.
The others among the top six are Gabriel Miller of Walsh University in Ohio at 68-8 ½. Ben Haas of Hillsdale in Michigan at 68-6, Jacob McPherson of Tiffin in Ohio at 68- ½, Jacob Luebbert of Missouri S&T at 67-9 and Reynolds and Nathan Powers of Northwood in Michigan, who are tied at 67-3 ½.
Reynolds said Monday that while he’s hoping to win the national title, he’ll be happy if he places. Sawvell seemed to agree. Virgl, their coach who was an outstanding weight thrower in college, said both have worked extra hard all season and she’s impressed by their consistency.
“I’m expecting big things from both of them,” she noted.
Unfortunately, the Eagles’ outstanding high jumper, Jourdaine Cerenil of Pine Bluffs, Wyo., missed qualifying for national meet by a half inch. Nineteen women who had cleared 5-7 were accepted, but she was among the five left behind after they’d gone 5-6 ½.