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DHS grad earns All-American status at NCAA D-III indoor track and field nationals

Gazette & News sports writer

One of the top college high jumpers in the U.S. is from right here in Dalton.

Former Dalton High School star athlete and current University of Mount Union high jumper Evan Hershberger earned All-American status at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Nationals this spring in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Hershberger placed fourth overall in high jump March 12 with a mark of 6-feet, 7.75 inches.

“I think a lot of people shared this feeling that it was almost a relief to be back,” said Hershberger about the event. “Indoor nationals didn’t get to be held for two years, obviously due to COVID-19, and I think just being there, the atmosphere was really refreshing for everybody and I think everyone who was lucky enough to be there and compete really enjoyed their time.”

The 2017 DHS grad needed to be one of the top 20 high jumpers in the nation to qualify for the indoor nationals. Athletes who jumped a mark high enough at any point in the season made it into the top 20 ranking. The cutoff date was a week prior to indoor nationals and the athletes in the top 20 at that time were invited to the meet. Heading into the meet, Hershberger was tied for second place in the nation.

Aside from the fourth place finish at nationals, Hershberger said his favorite part of the meet was having his teammates Tanner Slack and Elijah Cobb with him.

“I’m pretty blessed to say our high jump unit that we have at Mount Union is best in Division III and maybe Division II,” said Hershberger. “I love my teammates. I love practicing every day with them and being around them, so having them there made the situation a lot better. It makes you more relaxed and it makes you more natural. You don’t get too tense in the heat of competition, so I just loved having my teammates there and having that experience with them.”

Hershberger described the past indoor season to be a return to normalcy. The past two seasons were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the aspects being limited capacity for spectators. This season was closer to a normal season and Hershberger called it refreshing to go back to familiar ways.

Now that the indoor season is completed, Hershberger has his goals set for the outdoor season.
“Looking at the outdoor (season), I definitely want to obviously get back to nationals and become a two-time All-American,” said Hershberger. “As a team, I believe that we are more than capable of winning the overall team national championship. That’s probably my biggest goal this year is being able to hold up the team national championship trophy when it’s all said and done.”

Hershberger is currently in the MBA program at UMU. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and hopes to get into public accounting to gain experience before branching out into other ventures down the road. He is not sure if he will continue with track and field for the rest of his time in the program, as he only has one more year of NCAA eligibility left for the outdoor season. Hershberger noted he is not completely ruling out competing in the next outdoor season, but he is going to see how this season finishes before making a decision. The track team did have an influence on Hershberger’s decision to attend graduate school.

“It 100 percent had an influence on my decision,” said Hershberger. “Last season didn’t end exactly how I wanted it to. I wasn’t very satisfied with how my performances went at the end of the season and it left a little bad taste in my mouth. I know with the eligibility that we gained from the COVID year and the availability to do my graduate program, I just wanted to prove to myself that I had more in the tank, that I was able to accomplish my goals and the support of my teammates in that decision was also just huge. They played a vital role in me coming back and being able to have the experiences I had this indoor season.”

Hershberger has more to prove before his track and field career ends.

“I think the ultimate goal for me personally would be a national champion in the high jump event,” he said. “Track and field is one of those things, especially the field events like high jump is, anything can happen on any given day. Someone can have just the worst meet of their lives or someone can have the best meet of their lives and have their personal bests multiple times in one meet. I think if I was able to win a national championship in the high jump, that would be the ultimate goal for me.”

With all the success Hershberger has achieved, it would not have been possible without support from important people in his life.

“I can’t thank my teammates enough for their constant support over the years of my career,” said Hershberger. “I can’t thank my parents, family and friends enough for just constantly supporting me. It wouldn’t be the same without them and I just really can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me over my career.”

Follow Ariel on Twitter @AStahlerDGKNews

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