For much of last season, Talia Sheedlo was busy crunching numbers.
The Aurora University track and field athlete would use an online calculator to enter all of her personal records, carefully checking just how high her scores in the indoor pentathlon could go.
“I would put in all my PRs and see that I was scoring in the top 10 in the nation, but I couldn’t ever do it at a meet,” said Sheedlo, a Richmond-Burton graduate.
She had high hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Division III indoor nationals a year ago but faltered at a last-chance meet.
This season, the Aurora and Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference pentathlon record holder eschewed math for philosophy.
“This season was a little bit harder, transitioning from cross country to track,” said Sheedlo, a senior whose pentathlon record was 3,147 points. “It took a little bit more time getting into the sprinting and jumping modes.”
At her first two pentathlon competitions, she posted scores of 2,900 and “just over 3,000,” she said. “I was really frustrated.”
So Sheedlo focused on her attitude going into last weekend’s last-chance qualifying meet at Ohio Northern University. A busy nursing major who works as an in-home caregiver for a patient with ALS, Sheedlo even thought about not attending the meet.
“There was a point when I didn’t want to go,” she said. “I thought, ‘What is the point?’ But I just went in and said, ‘I’m going to try my best and see what happens.’”
The results were staggering.
Sheedlo’s last chance to qualify as a senior turned into a victorious career-best 3,301 points, which broke her own AU and NACC records, along with setting a record at Ohio Northern’s track and field facility. And, it gave Sheedlo a coveted spot in Friday’s national meet in Grinnell, Iowa.
“I didn’t set a number for myself,” she said. “I didn’t expect anything. I tried to not put so much pressure on myself. Last year, I went into the last chance meet really, really, really hoping that I would qualify and it didn’t go the way I planned.”
When she began last weekend’s meet with a victory in the 60-meter hurdles at 9.31 seconds, her hopes soared.
“That was a pretty good moment because it was one of my best times this season,” she said. “I had been hurdling in the 9.40s and 9.50s.”
Sheedlo then posted a personal record of 5 feet, 0½ inch in the high jump. “That shot me forward confidence wise,” she said of her third-place finish.
After a seventh-place finish in the shot put (27-10), she finished second in the long jump at 16-9¾, a career best in a pentathlon competition.
With only the 800-meter run remaining, she had an opportunity to crunch more numbers, but chose not to.
“My coach asked, “How much do you want to know?” Sheedlo said. “I told him, ‘Don’t tell me anything.’ I wasn’t counting points the whole meet.”
Sheedlo then posted a PR of 2:24.36 to set a facility record and push her point total into national qualifying territory. She enters the national meet with the 10th-best score in the country and is only 43 points behind the seventh-place qualifier.
“It’s exciting because I’m a senior and I’ve been wanting and hoping for this,” she said.
But Sheedlo doesn’t expect to use online calculators to check the possibilities of making the top eight, which would earn her All-American status.
“I tried to stay away from it,” she said.
Top Demon thrower Hedge: Crystal Lake South grad Kyle Hedge finished third in the shot put (51-11¾) at the Big East Conference indoor track and field championships last month in Staten Island, New York.
The DePaul athlete earned All-Big East honors as the top freshman finisher in the event and helped the Blue Demons place third in the team standings. Hedge’s third-place throw at conference was his personal best this season and third-best throw in the conference all season.
Taulien's Elmira hockey success: Prairie Ridge’s Alexander Taulien, a winger at D-III Elmira (N.Y.) College, signed a professional tryout contract with the Missouri Mavericks of the East Coast Hockey League, the college announced Wednesday.
In three seasons with Elmira, Taulien scored 27 goals and compiled 50 points. This season, the junior has scored 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 16 games. He joins a Missouri team that leads the ECHL with a 45-7-3 record. The Mavericks already have clinched a playoff berth.
Horizon League standout Crepeau: UIC sophomore Michael Crepeau won the long jump (21-2) and shot put (38-11¾) last month to place second in the heptathlon at the Horizon League indoor track and field championships in Youngstown, Ohio.
Crepeau, a Prairie Ridge grad, posted a total of 4,374 points to earn all-conference honors. Crepeau’s point total was the second-highest in the conference this season.
Dabrowski's superb Monmouth debut: Becca Dabrowski (McHenry West) made her college water polo debut with a team-high 14 assists along with 12 goals, which ranked second, as D-III Monmouth College’s women’s team went 2-3 in the season-opening Macalester Tournament last month.
Dabrowski was named to the Rookie of the Week honor roll by the Water Polo Association.
Monmouth set records for most goals scored and fewest allowed to start a season in the five-game tournament.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.