BC's Cheatham shatters record

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Bethel senior Austin Cheatham claimed his second straight title in the KCAC Indoor Championships, smashing the conference record in each of his three throws in the finals. Cheatham is a two-time NAIA national qualifier.
Bethel sophomore Laytham Magana finished fourth in the high jump and was a member of the second-place 4x800-meter relay team at the KCAC Indoor Championships.
Bethel sophomore Kalyn Corley placed sixth in the weight throw and 15th in the shot put at the KCAC Indoor Championships.
Bethel freshman Chet Albin placed seventh in the shot put Thursday at the KCAC Indoor Championships.

WICHITA — After his preliminary attempts, Bethel senior Austin Cheatham sat just .03 meters (1.2 inches) off the KCAC Indoor Track and Field Championship record in the shot put Thursday at the Heskett Center on the Wichita State campus.

Cheatham shattered that mark in the finals at 16.60, 17.07 and 17.43 meters, respectively, to earn his second straight conference title. The final mark translates to 57 feet, 2.2 inches. His last two were personal bests.

“I came into this meet with a really good coach, Coach Pete (Anderson),” Cheatham said. “He said just stay focused and have fun.”

“That was a pretty nice series,” Anderson said. “It was awesome to see that. He is really starting to understand how to get amped up, but also how to bring himself back down between throws.”

Anderson is a veteran throwing coach who has worked with numerous state medalists during his time at Newton High School.

“He’s got unbelievable quickness, but he also has an incredible drive,” Anderson said. “He just has a desire to be great. He researches it like no kid I’ve ever coached — at least at the college level. He puts the time in.”

The current season has brought with it challenges, but Cheatham was able to complete it.

“It’s been kind of tough with COVID and all the regulations,” Cheatham said. “Us going to Washburn really helped me out — those really big meets.”

Bethel competed at two meets at Washburn in the indoor season — competing against mainly NCAA Division II competition.

Cheatham’s final throw was 3 inches off the school record set by Kyle Wilson in 2019.

“My coaches told me (in the finals), I had nothing to lose,” he said. “Just go out and have fun.”

Cheatham led the competition from start to finish. Teammate Chet Albin finished seventh at 14.22 meters.

The shot used in indoor track weighs the same as the shot used outdoors, but is 15 to 35 millimeters larger in diameter (.59 to 1.38 inches).

“It’s a lot different,” Cheatham said. “The outdoor shot is a lot smaller, and I have baby hands. It helps to get a better release.”

Cheatham is a senior from Hesston. He spent his first years of college competition at Tabor and Friends before transferring to Bethel. He was 23rd at nationals last year indoors. The outdoor season last year was canceled.

Before the KCAC meet, Cheatham was ranked fifth in the NAIA. His KCAC mark, depending on other meets, would put him second.

The national meet begins March 3 in Yankton, S.D.

“I got last at last years,” Cheatham said. “This year is going to be different. It was not good. I worked a little too hard in the week leading up to it. This year, I’m going to take it a little bit easy.”

After the first day of competition, the Bethel men are in fifth place. Friends leads at 104.5, followed by Saint Mary at 56.5, Ottawa at 38 and Tabor at 34.5.

The Bethel women are in eighth place with 11 points. Saint Mary and York are tied for first with 69 points each. Tabor is third at 51, followed by Friends at 47 and Sterling at 16.

The team of Nick Morgan, Isaiah Bartel, Laytham Magana and Mauro Arancibia Campos took second in the 4x800-meter relay in 8:12.05.

Magana took fourth in the high jump at 1.86 meters. Evan DePriest was 13th at 1.66 meters.

DePriest was 20th in the long jump at 5.64 meters.

Sebastian Formento placed 14th in the triple jump at 12.02 meters.

In the men’s 5,000-meter run, Bethel’s Johnny Yang was 18th at 17:54.15 and Robbie Crager was 20th at 18:17.83.

The Bethel women were led by the team of Aubry Grame, Haley Robinette, Shantierra Jackson and Natalie Graber, which placed second in the 4x800-meter relay in 10:21.10.

Kalyn Corley placed sixth in the weight throws at 13.45 meters and 15th in the shot put at 9.42 meters.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com