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Halley qualifies for seasons biggest stage

The 1997 Gresham graduate will compete in this weekend's USA Track and Field national championships
by: David Ball, Scott Halley, a 1997 Gresham High School graduate, tosses around a javelin with his 3-year-old son, Ethan, last week. Scott qualified for the USA Track and Field Championships this weekend in Indianapolis.

Gresham High School graduate Scott Halley has made the most of his second chance in the track and field world, winning an elusive national javelin title and eyeing a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

Halley walked away from college at Northwest Nazarene after his junior season when he failed to reach the finals at the NAIA national meet for the first time. During his time away he landed a job as a computer technician in the Gresham-Barlow school district, and fathered his 3-year-old son Ethan.

'I got wrapped up in a rough relationship that took me away from a lot of the things I went to school for,' Halley said. 'But becoming a father is an incredible life change. It does something to you emotionally, and gives you the motivation to be on the right track in life.'

That renewed focus led him to assist with the throwers at Gresham during the spring of 2005. It also led him back to the field himself.

'I ran into my old coach (Randy Dalzell) at one of our meets, and he reminded me that I still had a year of eligibility left,' Halley said. 'At the time, I didn't think it would be possible to mix track in with being a full-time dad and working full time.'

Still, the idea found a place in the back of his mind, and by the following spring he found himself enrolled at Concordia University with a javelin in his hand. Halley's mother, Diane Borgstedt, watched his 3-year-old son, Ethan, and he used vacation time to travel to out-of-town meets.

Halley was already an accomplished thrower, winning a high school state title in 1997 and taking second at the NAIA Nationals during his first college season. He added a third-place effort during his sophomore season, despite a dislocated finger on his throwing hand that had to be reset before almost every throw.

The 27-year-old was unsure what to expect when he showed up for his first practice.

'I felt so beat-up after some of those early sessions. I wondered 'Why am I doing this?' I felt like I should be wearing a coaches' shirt,' Halley said. 'It's taken me longer to recover from workouts, but I've spent more time on the mental aspect of throwing.'

Improving his technique paid off with a NAIA national title, despite a scare in the event's final rounds. He held the top mark going into the finals only to watch two other throwers move past him late in the competition.

'I didn't want to go through a near-miss again,' Halley said. 'I just relaxed and stayed under control. My next throw went 229 feet, and I knew that nobody was going to catch up to that.'

His heave gave him a 15-foot cushion over the rest of the field.

Halley added another couple feet on his final throw, putting him over the qualifying standard for the elite USA Outdoor Track and Field championships this weekend in Indianapolis.

The javelin will be held Sunday, June 25, with highlights from the meet televised on ESPN2. He ranks 15th out of the 24 throwers for the meet.

'I've always been among the top few throwers, but this time I'm quite a way down the list,' Halley said. 'Still, it's amazing to be considered one of the nation's elite throwers. I'm nervous about being in a new environment, but I'm looking at it as a learning experience.'

Regardless of his finish this weekend, Halley is considering a training program to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Trials.

'It's weird to be approached by former gold medallists about trying for the Olympic team,' Halley said. 'But I don't know if there will be any other time in my life where I'll have a chance like this.'

He plans to continue his education at Concordia, looking to graduate with a degree in Business Administration next spring.