Written by Jody Schumaker
The question could simply be answered as hopeful. Dell Rapids has one of its own attempting to make history in Eugene, Oregon next week. Perhaps the first resident of Dell Rapids to lay claim to such a feat. Through a limited investigation, it was discovered that only one other resident participated for a United States affiliated team. Virgil Riley played on the 1959 United States World Championship basketball team, although not during an Olympic year.
Perhaps you recall the 6’7 shot blocker from the 2015 runner-up basketball team, or perhaps the defensive end on three championship football teams, or the state discus champion, or the kid who accepted a spot on the Dakota Wesleyan University basketball squad, or just maybe the kid who decided basketball wasn’t for him so he would try track at DWU just for fun. The “just for fun” decision turned out okay. He left his mark at DWU breaking the school discus record, which still stands today. Following his freshman year, he decided to move on to bigger challenges in his sport. He chose the University of South Dakota over other area Division I schools.
Yes, we are speaking of Ben Hammer ,son of Dean and Elaine Hammer, a 2015 graduate of Dell Rapids High School. Since leaving he has made a name for himself in the track and field world. Hammer currently holds the University of South Dakota school record in the discus throw and second in the shot-put, as well as being the South Dakota Collegiate leader all-time in the discus. He has won several events across the country including the Dakota Relays at Howard Wood, Wildcat Classic, and SDSU Holiday invite. He has received and earned many more honors, too long to mention here.
The 6’7, 285 lb, gentle giant will give his best shot next week at the United States Olympic Trials being held at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR, June 18-June 27. Hammer qualified in the discus throw and currently holds the 16th best throw in the nation at 198.6 feet. Mason Finley leads the country with a throw of 217.10. Twenty-four other men will be participating for a shot at the Olympics with Hammer next week. The discus preliminaries will begin on June 24, with the top 12 men making the finals the following day. From the finals, the top three will be representing the United States in the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan on July 23 through August 8, 2021.
Hammer is being coached by A.G. Kruger, a three time Olympian thrower and current track coach at USD. Hammer is considered an unattached participant, thus he belongs to no track club, nor receives assistance from any sponsors. However, Hammer will not travel alone. Other members of the USD track team made the Olympic trials, including teammate throwers.
Hammer has shown with his hard work and determination a person can accomplish a dream, but it’s not yet over. We are wishing him the best of luck next week, that all those hours of perfecting his throwing technique and pushing weights can achieve yet a bigger dream. Go for the Gold Ben.