By Megan Wilson
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Scott Sellers is at the summit of his sport. The senior from Katy, Texas, is a seven-time All-American and a two-time national champion in the high jump. With so much success, it would be easy for Sellers to fall prey to the pressure to maintain that level of achievement, or lose focus on the future.
For Sellers, the 2007 Big 12 Outdoor Male Performer of the Year, there’s always someone to beat, another championship to win, another record to set.
“There’s always somebody out there that can jump higher and you can always jump higher,” he said. “High jump and pole vault are the only two events that end in failure. You go until you can’t jump anymore. Even if you win, you can always jump higher. I might have won a national championship here in the U.S., but there’s still a next level, whether it be a World Championship or an Olympic Championship.”
With numerous records already to his credit, Sellers also has the opportunity to make a new kind of history. If he earns All-America honors this spring during the outdoor season, he will become K-State’s first eight-time All-American. Better yet, he will have completed this incredible feat in only four years.
“It would be a significant upset were he not to be an All-American outdoors,” head Coach Cliff Rovelto said. “If he does that he’ll be the first in the history of Kansas State, in 100 years of track and field, to be an All-American every year, indoor and outdoor, in one event.
“We’ve had phenomenal athletes here. What he is about to do has never happened, and I don’t know, quite honestly, if it will ever happen again. It’s very difficult to do what he’s done,” Rovelto noted.
In fact, Rovelto said Sellers has the potential to become the greatest track athlete in school history and potentially the best male athlete ever at Kansas State. Rovelto, who has spent 16 years at the helm at K-State and is a six-time USA team staff member internationally, would know.
“We’ve had really, really successful track and field athletes here, people who have made Olympic teams and won Olympic medals,” he said. I know it’s hard to compare across sports, but I think you could make a really strong argument when it’s all said and done that he may have been the best male athlete ever at Kansas State.”
No stranger to the spotlight, Sellers continues to shine in both the indoor and outdoor arenas. He earned two Big 12 titles, one indoor in 2008 and one outdoor in 2007, and holds the school records in both indoor and outdoor high jump. As a sophomore in 2007, he knocked off the defending national champion and world-record holder to earn his first national title. This past indoor season, Sellers sailed to his first indoor title by jumping 7’-4.05”, claiming his second overall national crown. He was the only competitor to successfully clear 7’-2.05”.
Sellers admits that his previous successes make him a target for his opponents and add pressure for him to perform well every time out. But a little pressure, he insists, can be a good thing.
“I think you can treat that (pressure) as a good thing or as a bad thing,” he said. “I try to treat it as motivation. It does add additional pressure that you can put on yourself, but it also gives you confidence that you can compete with other jumpers from different universities and different ages and different talent levels.”
Knowing that he cannot rely merely on his past success or talent alone to continue to achieve his goals, Sellers has increased an already dedicated work ethic and credits his coach and his teammates with pushing him forward.
“Talent will take you a lot of places, but without the work ethic you’ll only get so far,” he said. “Working with Coach Rovelto, who expects hard work out of all his athletes and working with such a good training group that works hard and is willing to put the work in has really fostered that development.”
With tremendous talent and dedication, Sellers feels there are more great things in his future, and Coach Rovelto agrees.
“Assuming he sticks with it for a while, he’s going to make national teams,” he said. “It may be World Championship teams or Olympic teams, but he’s going to make national teams. It’s just a matter of him making the choice to stick with it. If he does, then those things will happen.
“They’ll happen because he’s talented enough to do those things, but he also possesses the work ethic and he’s intelligent enough to take care of himself and keep everything in the right perspective,” stated Rovelto.
Entering his senior season for the Wildcats, Sellers must also now look back on his career as a whole, and try to put all of his achievements into perspective.
“It’s been very rewarding,” he said. “I’ve gotten to go to a lot of places and meet a lot of people. In one aspect, it’s been rewarding like that. I’ve also been very successful, so I have no complaints. It’s definitely been a really good experience.”
Rovelto said Sellers lends the program additional credibility by adding to a long line of male high jump champions. The list has seen All-Americans Kyle Lancaster (2003-07) and Nathan Leeper, who both went on to win two national titles professionally and compete for the U.S. Olympic team.
“He’s a really, really great kid and a really nice guy,” Rovelto said. “He’s been the consummate team player. Here he is, far and away the best guy in the program in the time that he’s been here. He’s ran on relays, long-jumped, triple-jumped, he’s done things to help the team in scored competitions and has never batted an eye about doing those things.
“When you put in perspective what he’s done and the competition he faced while he was doing it and that he did it in a four year period, it’s pretty remarkable.”
Perhaps even greater than the impact Sellers has had on K-State is the impact he has had on others. Rovelto said he sometimes receives notes in regards to the performances, accomplishments and conduct of athletes in his program, and Sellers has been the topic of many.
“Of the 20 or 30 notes I have received, probably a third of them have been in regards to Scott Sellers,” he said. “And that doesn’t happen very often in our sport. For people to take the time to let us know how much they’ve appreciated him and how he conducts himself, I think speaks volumes.”