Prep Notebook: Nilsen takes 2nd at U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships

South Dakota sophomore Chris Nilsen finished runner-up in the pole vault at the 2018 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships inside Drake Stadium on Saturday, June 23 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Nilsen vaulted 19 feet, ¼ inch, for his sixth meet over the 19-foot barrier this year. The sophomore entered the competition with the top height during the outdoor season after vaulting 19-2 ¾ at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays.

2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist Sam Kendricks captured his eighth American title with a jump of 19-2 ¼.

With no IAAF World Outdoor Championships in 2018, Nilsen wrapped up his sophomore year. Nilsen captured the second NCAA title of his career two weeks ago after vaulting an NCAA Championships meet record of 19-1 ½. He also broke the Summit League Championships meet record by nearly a foot after vaulting 19-0 ¼. The U.S. Championship marks the second time this season Nilsen and Kendricks have vaulted against one another in competition. Nilsen also finished runner-up to Kendricks at the Drake Relays.

Platte County product NaRon Rollins also competed in the Des Moines meet. The Pittsburg State junior ran 10.25 in the 100-meter dash but didn’t advance to the finals.

 Bill Powell/South Dakota Athletics Park Hill product Chris Nilsen, shown competing in the Summit League championships earlier this year, was named the league’s top athlete.

Bill Powell/South Dakota Athletics
Park Hill product Chris Nilsen, shown competing in the Summit League championships earlier this year, was named the league’s top athlete.

Nilsen named top Summit athlete

ELMHURST, Ill. — South Dakota sophomore Chris Nilsen was voted The Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the league’s head coaches.

Nilsen repeats as the Summit League Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, garnering the award for the fourth time of his career.

Nilsen brought home the gold in the pole vault at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He vaulted 19 feet, 1 ½ inches, to break a 22-year-old NCAA Championships meet record. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Nilsen also broke his own Summit League Championships meet record by nearly a foot after clearing 19-0 ¼. The sophomore broke the 19-foot barrier at four meets during the season, vaulting his personal best of 19-2 ¾ at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays for the top height in the United States this season. Nilsen ranks fourth in NCAA history with the jump. He was also named the USTFCCCA Midwest Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year and was a semifinalist for The Bowerman.

Prior to earning the conference athlete of the year award, Nilsen was named the Summit League’s May/June Athlete of the Month.

Nilsen extends his own Summit League record to eight monthly awards.

Hayes wrestles in World Team Trials

Park Hill product Ke-Shawn Hayes recently took part in the U23 World Team Trials held June 1-3 in Akron, Ohio.

The Ohio State wrestler was an unattached competitor in the event and he reached the quarterfinals.

Hayes went 4-1 in 70 kg class.

He opened with a 16-6 win against Malik Amine and then posted a 19-8 win against Evan Cheek. Wins over Danny Reed (13-2) and Boo Lewallen (8-4) sent Hayes into the final eight.

His run ended with a 13-9 loss to Tyler Berger, who wrestles at Nebraska.

Ashby named A-A, signs pro contract

Former Park Hill product Aaron Ashby was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth round of the draft and signed his pro contract on June 13.

Two days prior to signing, he was named a NJCAA All-American for his efforts this past spring at Crowder. Only three pitchers selected to the first team.

The Crowder College left-handed pitcher was drafted by Texas in the 25th round in 2017, but returned to school and upped his draft stock. He was the first pitcher the Brewers drafted this year and signed for $520,000, according to Baseball America.

Ashby made his debut on the mound on June 20. He is currently 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA and one save through July 9. He has given up 11 hits, 10 runs, walked six and struck out 12.

Three compete in USTAF Jr. Championships

Three Park Hill School District athletes, two in high school and the other in  college, took part in the USA Track and Field Junior Championships last month in Bloomington, Ind.

Grant Downes took ninth in the decathlon with 6,422 points. The 2017 Park Hill graduate just finished his freshman season at Wichita State.

Park Hill senior-to-be Kolby Heinerikson was 11th with 5,934 points.

Downes was fourth in the 100-meter dash and 1,500-meter run.

Heinerikson was fifth in the discus and third in the javelin in the 10-event competition.

Park Hill South’s Chris DuPree was 17th in the 400 dash. The junior-to-be raced against six Division I foes.

Fullerton makes all-star team

Park Hill South product Richard Fullerton was named to the M.I.N.K League All-Star team.

The outfielder for the Ozark Generals went 1-for-2 as the designated hitter for the South All-Stars. The fourth annual All-Star Game was held on Wednesday, June 27 at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin, Missouri.

That game was played in the same town where Fullerton plays college baseball. Fullerton wrapped up his first season at Missouri Southern, where he hit .250 with five doubles, a home run and four RBI in 15 games for the Lions.

DiBlasi competes in Cadet Nationals

Missouri-bound wrestler Grayston DiBlasi wrestled for Missouri in the 2018 Cadets Duals last month in Spokane, Washington.

In the Greco division, the recent Park Hill graduate went 1-2 in pool action, but went 4-0 in the Bronze/Copper Pool, with wins against wrestlers from Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and Califorina. Missouri took eighth place overall, falling to Oregon, 42-39.

In the freestyle competition, DiBlasi went 2-1 in pool play, with wins against North Carolina’s River Griffith and New Jersey’s Andrew Trecyznski. In the Gold/Silver pool, he went 1-3. In the seventh-place match, Missouri lost to Washington.