EUGENE, Ore. – South Dakota junior discus thrower Ben Hammer and sophomore high-jumper Zack Anderson competed in a windy and rainy 2018 NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field, but both fell out of contention early in their first NCAA appearances.
Anderson, who cleared his first jump in one attempt at a height of 6 feet, 9 3/4 inches, was unable to clear the 7-foot bar in the second round. The mark, though, was good enough to tie for 13th, earning the Parker native second-team All-American honors. He was the first Coyote to earn All-American honors in the men’s high jump.
Meanwhile, Hammer, who was the Summit League discus champion, was unable to complete a throw, fouling on all three of his preliminary-round throws and failing to advance to the final.
Both Coyotes credited the rainy weather for their inability to advance.
Hammer won the Summit League Championship in the discus with a throw of 196-6, breaking the Summit League Championship and South Dakota school records. After the West Preliminary, he came into the NCAA ranked 11th in the 24-person event, but he couldn’t get a throw off.
He said he was hesitant out of the back of the ring because of the rain, saying the water made the ring slicker.
“I should’ve been able to adjust better to the circumstance,” said Hammer.
While the meet didn’t end how Hammer had hoped, the junior said the experience taught him to be a better competitor.
“I learned how to compete at this meet, which was a really good experience – learning how to prepare for a meet where everybody from all over the country is going to come and show up,” he said.
Anderson had a similar experience. He said that on the high jump approach, the slickness created by the puddles got in his head, making it hard to focus on his approach and steps because he wanted to make sure he wouldn’t slip.
“I’ve been on kind of a hot streak for the last month and a half clearing the 7-foot bars, so I was hoping this one would kind of be nothing special,” he said. “It’s the first time jumping in rain since probably high school, and it did bug me.”
In March, Anderson broke a program record, clearing a height of 7-1 ¾ and, coming into this year’s NCAA championships, had cleared 7 feet at his last three events, the Dakota Relays; the Summit League Championships, where he defended his high jump title; and the NCAA West Preliminaries, where he finished first in a three-way tie.
This time, the sophomore was unable to expand his streak clearing a 7-foot bar to four.
He said: “I’m not happy knowing I have six more months until I can jump again, so it’s bad. But it’ll fuel me for next year.”