DELAWARE, Ohio – Salisbury University sophomore Chelsea Tavik entered the shot put competition at the 2011 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships seeded 17th out of 24 competitors. Once she stepped into the circle on Friday night Tavik proved that those seeds don't mean a whole lot as she crushed her own school record en route to a third-place finish and the first All-American honor of her career.
Tavik continued to improve throughout her six throws on the evening, and before her final throw Salisbury Throws Coach Tyler Hohman gave her one directive: "Go out and give it everything you've got," he said. "I don't care if you foul; I just want you to put everything you have behind this throw."
Tavik did just that – and she didn't foul – closing her season with the top distance of her career, a heave of 47' 2.5", nearly three feet beyond her previous school record. She didn't need to hear what the distance was, as soon as she released it she knew how good her final effort was.
"As soon as I released it, I looked where it landed and I walked out of the back of the circle and I started crying," Tavik said. "I knew for me, it was going to be a huge personal record. Then to find out it was third place was just a dream come true."
In the end, the Glen Burnie, Md., native trailed only University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student-athletes Jecel Gerner (49' 7") and Holly Ozanich (48' 7.5"). The top eight finishers earn All-American honors with Tavik's award just the sixth in the history of the Salisbury women's track & field program.
Friday's accomplishment marks the end of a breakout season for Tavik, who qualified for national championships during both the indoor and outdoor season in the shot put. During the indoor season, Tavik just missed All-American honors, placing 10th. She would not be denied at the outdoor championship.
Tavik enters her summer workouts as the program record holder in the indoor shot put, outdoor shot put and javelin. And now she is an All American as well.
"Working over the summer, it's something I have to do," Tavik said. "But now it's something I want to do. I want to come back in the indoor season and make 47 feet my standard."