School can wait

Counseling student chasing Olympic dreams

Department Head Jay Trenhaile doesn’t offer this advice to many of his Counseling and Human Resource Development graduate students:

“Go ahead and hold off on your schooling. You can come back later.”

That was the essence of his message to Aubrey Baxter.

“Hers is a very unique situation,” the professor says. What makes Baxter’s situation unique is that she is only a few meters away from reaching her goal of making the U.S. Olympic team in the hammer throw, a track and field event in which competitors grab a handle that is attached by a four-foot wire to a 8.8-pound shot put.

Baxter threw the hammer 215 feet (65.53 meters) in late spring and the U.S. Olympic B standard is 69 meters. The A standard is 71.5 meters.

Throwers that meet the A standard are automatically invited to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Beaverton, Oregon, in late June. B qualifiers are provisionally invited, depending on how many A qualifiers there are. Overall, the top sixteen throwers are invited.

Rebounding from disappointment

Baxter, a Redfield native, knows personally the disappointment of being ranked number seventeen.

That was the case for her in 2010, when her standing in the final weeks of the season slipped from twelfth to seventeenth. “It sucked but it definitely helped” provide motivation for Baxter in 2011, when she qualified for nationals and finished seventh.


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placing was high enough to make her a professional—she earned a $500 check—and spurred to train more intensely.

“It fueled me to get up to that seventh place last year. In high school I was pretty good at volleyball, basketball, softball, and track. I kind of banked on my natural talent. Really my whole career, I don’t want to say I was lazy, but I just kind of banked on my natural talent,” Baxter says.

But now, “I want to be on the level with the girls that compete with me.

This is something I really want to do.”

Training at Oklahoma State

To be at the par of the nation’s leading hammer throwers, Baxter needs to be throwing twelve months a year. That isn’t possible in South Dakota. So this fall she headed to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she is a volunteer coach at Oklahoma State University.

“I’m really hoping this year I can surprise people and get in that top five. Obviously, it would be exciting to be top three and make the [Olympic] team,” Baxter says.

She adds that it’s exciting to train “at the level where I want to; training like a professional athlete for the first time.”

But life for a professional hammer thrower is a bit like that of a professional rodeo cowboy. There are no guaranteed checks and athletes need to find sponsors.

“Right now I foot my own expenses while in Stillwater. If I have to put money on the credit card, I’m going to do it. There’s only a small window when you can be an elite athlete,” says Baxter, who notes that she will solicit support while back in South Dakota for the holidays.

2008 Olympic Trials

Her home community of Redfield “helped me out so much before” when she qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the shot put in 2008.

That was after her junior season at Black Hills State University and she finished twelfth with a throw of 51-1.

She finished her collegiate career as an eight-time NAIA national champion in the shot put, weight throw, and hammer throw. She holds the NAIA national records in both the weight and hammer as well as the South Dakota collegiate records in the indoor and outdoor shot put, the weight throw, and hammer throw.

It was Baxter’s sophomore year viagra online in college before she became focused on track.

“In junior high I thought I would be a professional basketball player. In high school I thought I was going to be a pro volleyball player. In high school I did track because it was fun and I was good at it. I liked the social aspect of track in high school.

“My sophomore year of college, my coach told me if you train hard, you have the physical ability to make a [national] team,” Baxter shares.

Driven to excellence

After graduating from Redfield High School in 2004, Baxter enrolled at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, and participated in volleyball and track. She placed second at the NAIA nationals in shot put. But the school was transitioning

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to NCAA Division II and would not be eligible for NAIA nationals again.

“I didn’t want to stop at second,” Baxter says.

For her sophomore year, she enrolled at a California junior college that has a nationally known throwing coach. Then she enrolled at Black Hills State, spending three seasons there, and was a teammate of Tyg Long, who canadian pharmacy no rx also was the throwing coach her final year.

“Tyg was always a big supporter of me. He said if you train hard, it could work out and it definitely has,” Baxter says.

Long coached at SDSU from fall 2009 to spring 2011.

Baxter’s career mark of 215 feet was set at Kansas State about three weeks before her throws at the June 24 USA Track and Field national championships in Eugene, Oregon, where she placed seventh. “Tyg Long did a really good job of getting me to peak at the right time,” Baxter says.

A full plate at State

She competed unattached and was

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a volunteer coach at State while going to grad school and working as a research assistant for Soohyun Cho, an assistant professor in consumer sciences.

Jay Trenhaile, her academic advisor, says, “Our program generic viagra forums is fairly rigorous. For her to be a student, a graduate assistant, and also to fit in training, that’s a whole lot. We did talk about her doing her internship [in Oklahoma] but she’s training five to six hours a day and that needs to be her focus.

“These things are very time sensitive. She has a certain window” in which she can compete at the elite level.

“I definitely think she has a lot of opportunity,” Trenhaile says. “She’s hard working. We’ve definitely seen that in the [counseling] program. I think she’s doing what she needs to. I wouldn’t want to have a conversation with her at a conference fifteen years down the road about not following her dreams.

“The profession will wait a year or two for her to jump in.”

In the meantime, Trenhaile and other faculty members will be rooting for their favorite Olympic hopeful.

Dave Graves

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