BYU track athlete aims for the Olympics

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Most children dream that they will grow up to be doctors, teachers, firemen or astronauts. Chase Dalton had his sights set on a different dream: running.

Dalton has been a track athlete for 11 years, training to make it to the big leagues. Dalton will have to work hard in the next year and push himself to the limit in order to make it to the Olympic field in 2016. What seemed like a distant dream is now in Dalton’s reach.

“Getting to the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was little,” Dalton said. “In elementary school, I always liked racing people on the playground. Even if I lost, it didn’t really matter. I liked the competition.”

Dalton grew up in Tigard, Oregon. There wasn’t a youth track program available until he reached middle school. The team only practiced three times a week and participated in two or three track meets. Dalton’s involvement in track didn’t become serious until he entered high school.

His four main events include the javelin, 110-meter hurdles, long jump and high jump. During his senior year he ran the 300-meter hurdles and the 4×400-meter relay. By the time he left Tigard High School, he was a league champion in the 110-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, 4×400-meter relay and twice in the javelin.

College decisions were easy for him. “BYU was really the only school I wanted to go to,” Dalton said.

He was accepted into BYU with a track scholarship. For males, the program is only able to reward scholarships to cover 12.6 athletes, and Dalton felt blessed he was chosen.

Dalton’s freshman year at BYU was a huge success. He competed as a decathlete and excelled in all of the events, especially the throwing events. He made it to nationals in the javelin, an event that only a small group of athletes are able to compete in. Dalton also became a junior national champion, making it to the junior world championships.

“Chase’s freshman year was incredible,” said BYU track and field head coach Mark Robison. “He made huge breakthroughs.”

There was a two-year pause in his track career when Dalton decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His service in Tucson, Arizona, set him back in track, but he had no regrets.

“Sure, it set me back physically, because you don’t have time to train, but in other ways it propelled me forward,” Dalton said. “It set me up to be better in life.”

Upon his return to the track field, he had to overcome some hardships. On his mission, he broke his right hand while helping a family move. He also tore his right shoulder labrum, resulting in surgery once he got home. The injury made it difficult for Dalton to participate in the javelin — his best event. This put a damper on his sophomore year, which then carried over into his junior year, making both seasons slow for Dalton.

Dalton sprained both of his ankles during his senior year in two “freak accidents,” causing him to lose his pre-season training. The first accident happened during high jump drills and the second on the pole vault pit.

“The indoor championships was my first meet back from spraining both ankles,” Dalton said. “I had them taped up in casts.”

Dalton had made the NCAA Indoor Championships to compete in the heptathlon prior to spraining his ankles. He didn’t place well in the competition but was still able to receive All-American honors. Dalton began to make new personal records and thrive on the track field once again.

“Chase is very determined and driven,” Robison said. “He’s almost obsessed with wanting to be successful.”

The culmination of Dalton’s five years at BYU took place in June 2014 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Oregon. It was his last time competing for BYU, and his whole family was able to be there to support him.

“I was yelling so loud as Chase came around the last turn of the 1,500,” said Alyssa Dalton, Chase’s wife. “Mom and I jumped up and down hugging each other as he crossed the finish line.”

The last turn not only made an impact on Alyssa and her mother, but on Chase Dalton as well. “It was kind of emotional at the end to finish up that 1,500,” said Dalton.”I just had a smile on my face coming around the last 200.”

By the end of the meet, he had earned solid marks all the way around. He competed two weeks later at the USA outdoors in Sacramento and placed fifth. Chase Dalton’s top-five placement qualified him to compete in the Thorpe Cup in Germany as a member of Team USA.

“Placing fifth was an eye opener,” he said. “I have a lot to work on and a lot of progress to make.”

Chase Dalton was an honorary member of Team USA for the Thorpe Cup, but that doesn’t guarantee him a spot on the team for the Olympics. Athletes must earn their spot each time they compete. To make the 2016 Olympic trials, he must place in the top three at the World Championships February 2016.

“I think he’s got a chance,” Robison said. “This year means a lot, and he needs to make the same improvement as he did last year.”

Chase Dalton graduated December 2014, no longer tying him to a collegiate team. His goal is to be able to pick up sponsors to reach the Olympics. He has put his career on hold as he invests all his time and effort in chasing his dream.

“My wife supported me and continues to support me in whatever I decide to do,” he said. With recent changes like getting married, graduating and searching for sponsors, Dalton has felt the stress, but Alyssa Dalton has helped lighten the load. “She’s been an anchor in my life and really lessened the stress,” he said.

Chase Dalton participated in the U.S. Indoor Championships in February. He will compete in the decathlon at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in June. What he ultimately needs is an automatic decathlon standard within the year of the trials. In order to reach the standard, he will have to compete in a couple additional meets between this June and the Olympic trials in June 2016.

“Chase is the strongest athlete I’ve ever met” Alyssa Dalton said. “I do believe that he can make it to the Olympics.”

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