UD’s Hillman has more to accomplish

 

Sarah Hillman

Even before she’s seen the actual distance of one of her throws, Sarah Hillman can usually tell whether it was a good one or not.

She just feels it.

“It’s a great feeling,” said the Polytech High grad. “You just kind of know.

“Sometimes when you throw — like on my personal best — I don’t even feel the throw happening. It just kind of happens. Everything clicks together — the technique is good, the power is good and it’s just very smooth.”

Now a junior at the University of Delaware, Hillman has had her share of smooth throws in both the discus and shot put during her collegiate career.

Last week at the historic Penn Relays in Philadelphia, the Dover native broke her own school record with a discus throw of 52.42 meters. This weekend, Hillman is competing in the Colonial Athletic Association Championships, which UD is hosting.

Hillman also owns the school record in the shot put (14.36 meters).

But, like most competitors, the great throws that Hillman just missed also stick with her. She’s had some significantly longer throws that didn’t count because she fouled.

“If I had gotten them in, they would have been great,” said Hillman. “It definitely motivates me because I know I can throw farther than what I’m throwing. … I fouled one — barely — and it was one of the best throws I’ve ever had.”

Hillman would get no arguments from her coach, Larry Pratt. The Blue Hens’ veteran throwing coach thinks Hillman still has the potential to throw much farther.

Pratt points out that Hillman has been slowed by some injuries in her career.

“She’s missed so much, I wish she had more meets under her belt,” he said. “She responds really well to adversity.”

Hillman still has more things she wants to accomplish before this season is over. After the CAAs this weekend, she’ll have a chance to qualify for the NCAA championships.

But Pratt said the last thing he wants to do is put the pressure of expectations on Hillman’s strong shoulders.

“My approach is ‘just go out and have fun’ because the pressure is enormous,” said Pratt. “All the people on the team look at her like, ‘you should win.’ And then she thinks, ‘I’ve got to win.’ Sometimes that’s just too much.

“I don’t even talk about the competition. It’s just ‘Get the rhythm, have fun and you’ll be happy.’ That’s all we’re going to do. We’re not going to talk about winning or school records.”

That sounds good to Hillman. She tries to not even look at the distances that other competitors are throwing during warmups before a big meet.

“I try to just focus on myself and aim for a personal best every meet,” said Hillman. “I try not to focus on, ‘Oh, I need to beat this person.’ I just need to beat myself.”

Notes

•Another downstater competing for the Hens, sophomore Jeanette Bendolph (Caesar Rodney), is considered a contender in the 800 meters at the CAA meet.

•Interestingly enough, Delaware will add another record-breaking thrower from the Henlopen Conference when current Smyrna High senior Myrissa McFolling-Young joins the program in the fall.

“They’re going to be one heck of a one-two punch,” Pratt said about Hillman and McFolling-Young. “I’m excited about that.”

•Caesar Rodney High grad Rosa’lynn Burton had a big freshman season for the Wilmington University softball team.

The outfielder was named the Rookie of the Year in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference after hitting .474 with 52 runs, 82 hits and 39 stolen bases.

“She gets our offense going,” said Wilmington coach Mike Shehorn, the former CR coach. “She has the ability to bunt, slap, or hit her way on. Once she is on base she is more than likely going to score. She has also done a terrific job in left field for us all season.”

•Dover High grad Kendall Small had a two-homer game for the Wilmington University baseball team this week. Small leads Wilmington in home runs (4) and RBI (43) this season.

Another local product, Smyrna High’s Nick Macey, is batting .354 in 35 games for Wilmington.

•The UD football team will hold its first spring football game under new coach Danny Rocco today at 6 p.m. in Delaware Stadium.

•Juniors Janiah Moore and Sammy Williams were named captains for the 2017 Wesley College women’s soccer team. Moore is a Caesar Rodney High graduate and was am All-Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Second Team selection in 2016.

•Legendary UD football and baseball coach Tubby Raymond was inducted into the Middle Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame this week. Delaware was a member of the MAC for football from 1958 until 1969 and was affiliated in baseball from 1946 until 1974. Raymond is the second Blue Hen selected to the Hall of Fame, joining former UD Director of Athletics and football coach David Nelson, who was honored posthumously last year.

•Delaware won the NCAA Division I field hockey national title in the fall with a roster that included five players from The Netherlands (plus one from Germany).

So it shouldn’t be surprising that the seven-player recruiting class that UD announced on Thursday included three more players from The Netherlands.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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