GRINNELL, Iowa – Salisbury University junior Chelsea Tavik made school history on Saturday afternoon, claiming the first individual national championship by a female student-athlete as she won the shot put title at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Tavik's top distance of 46' 10.75" was matched by Wartburg College's Sarah Hoffmann, which by NCAA tie-breaking rules, was then determined by each competitor's next best throw. Tavik held the advantage by a foot with the determining distance a preliminary-round effort of 46' 8.5" to Hoffmann's 45' 8.5".
The trip to the national championship was the third of Tavik's career and something she says helped her leading up to the competition. She was used to waking up, getting breakfast and hanging out a bit before heading to the competition; keeping calm early in the day before the afternoon event.
Once she was checking in, that's when the switch turned, she says. It was time to focus, warm-up properly and be prepared to compete.
"I knew that I could throw a big number and I could come out on top," Tavik said.
The Glen Burnie, Md., native was in the first of two flights during the preliminary round and with her third throw of the preliminaries covering 46' 8.5", she found herself trailing only Hoffmann's 46' 10.75"
"The throw itself felt pretty decent," Tavik said. "They were all coming out well, but I knew there was room for improvement. It was on that line where it was where I wanted to be, but I knew it could be better."
Throughout the second preliminary flight, Salisbury Throws Coach Tyler Hohman simply wanted Tavik to relax and stay loose while watching the competition. But when the finals came up, he knew one good throw could seal the deal.
"This is in your range and you have to put a big throw on the board and end it," Hohman told her.
It was on Tavik's first throw of the finals that she reached the tying mark. It was another good throw, but one that she hoped to improve upon, knowing that there were solid competitors remaining, who had put up big throws earlier in the year and that they would be gunning for her mark.
Tavik fouled on her two final throws, and when Hoffmann's final distance came up short, Tavik still wasn't sure who had won. She was left to ask her nearest competitor, Hoffmann, what the tie-breaking procedure would be. Hoffman then informed Tavik that she had just become a national champion.
The win for Tavik has shown her steady improvement throughout her Salisbury career. She first qualified for a national meet and traveled to the indoor championships a year ago, placing 11th, just missing out on advancing to the finals. Last May, Tavik traveled to the outdoor championship seeded 17th and came away with a third-place finish and her first All-American award.