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Hurdling high jumper bolsters Knights
By Lynn Rosendale

Caleb RottmanWhen Caleb Rottman first visited Calvin from Fargo, N.D. as a high school junior, he admitted that he didn’t have track times that would be turning any heads.

“I had just completed my sophomore year in track, and the times that I had wouldn’t have impressed any coaches,” he said.

But that’s not what Rottman was thinking about anyway in terms of his college search. When he began searching more than four years ago, he was looking for a Christian liberal arts school with a four-year engineering program that was recognized for its academics. “That didn’t leave a lot of options open,” he said. Calvin was among the options.

By the time Rottman got to Calvin, his improved best score in the high jump of 6-4 was enough to garner some attention from the men's track and field coaches, though.“I felt like I might be able to contribute, especially if I could get better,” he said.

That took a little longer than what Rottman was planning on—at least in the high jump.

“I think I only got to 5-10 my freshman year,” he said. “The coaches made a lot of changes, and it was pretty frustrating.”

To handle the frustration, Rottman hurdled. “I didn’t think I would ever hurdle in college; I wasn’t very fast in high school,” said Rottman. “But when I was doing bad in high jump, I’d wander over thinking, ‘At least I can hurdle.’”

As a result, Rottman dropped a lot of time off the hurdles. So much so that he took second in the 110- meter hurdles at the MIAA championships this spring.“That was an event where I felt like I could help the team at conference, so I competed in it.”

Though Rottman finished second in the high jump at the MIAA championships, he considered that his best event. A national provisional qualifying leap this year of 6-7 1/2 proved that, though it didn’t hold up for a spot in the national finals.

“Once I made the changes the coaches suggested, I got significantly better,” said Rottman, who cleared 6-7 as a sophomore.

Hampered by an injury as a junior, Rottman considered this year to be his best. “I attribute all of my success to the fantastic coaches here,” said Rottman.“They really have given me the opportunity to compete at my full potential. When I look at other schools, I see that I could be close to the school record, but there is no way I would be competing at this level.”

Rottman also credits the coaches for the ability to combine athletics and academics so successfully. An engineering major, Rottman had a heavy workload, especially this year as he was working with a team analyzing a geothermal snowmelt system for use at Calvin as his senior design project.

“I found athletics and engineering more manageable than I expected,” Rottman explained. “The coaches did a really good job of helping me find the right balance.” Balance between academics and athletics, but also balance with his faith. “That’s what I really like about Calvin; it doesn’t just put Christianity in religion class. Christianity ties into everything that we’re doing, from my classes to track,” he said.

As only one of only two current students from North Dakota, Rottman recommends Calvin to fellow North Dakotans, but beyond that to anyone looking for a great experience in track. “Calvin is a great school, but I really want to recommend the track program,” he said. “The coaching staff is incredible.”

Rottman is currently working as an electrical engineer, with plans to continue on to graduate school in the future.