Editor’s note: Tyler Hiatt is the son of Stephanie and Jon Hiatt. Tyler Hiatt is the grandson of Stephen D. Bowers, Director of Office of Veteran Affairs for the Seminole Tribe).
2019 turned out to be a pretty good year for Tyler Hiatt.
In the spring, he helped lead the track and field team at Lincoln High School to a state championship while winning individual state titles in shot put and discus.
In the summer, he was named South Dakota’s Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
In the fall, he was a part of a huge turnaround for the football team as it went 8-2 a year after being 2-8.
In the winter, Hiatt capped off the memorable year by signing a letter of intent with North Dakota State University, where he’ll join the track and field team later this year.
Hiatt, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior with a 3.60 grade point average at Lincoln, comes from an athletic family. His mom – Stephanie Bowers Hiatt – starred on the volleyball court at the University of Sioux Falls, where she is in the Hall of Fame.
Tyler’s dad Jon Hiatt played soccer in college, and younger siblings Caleb (basketball and tennis) and Lucas (golf and tennis) are active on courts and courses.
“I’ve got a pretty good athletic background,” Tyler Hiatt said about his family, which was by his side when he put pen to paper during a signing ceremony at Lincoln. He also has proud grandparents back east, Stephen and Elizabeth Bowers from the Hollywood Reservation.
“They’re super happy for me,” Hiatt said.
Hiatt had plenty of college offers. In addition to NDSU, schools that were interested in him included Baylor, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. He narrowed his choices to NDSU, Iowa and Nebraska before making the final decision to head to Fargo.
Hiatt had good vibes about NDSU as far back as the summer when he attended a throws camp at the college. Both he and his dad were impressed by NDSU coach Justin St. Clair, so they decided to return for an official visit.
“I fell in love with it. It’s a tight-knit community,” Hiatt said.
Hiatt will do the weight throw (indoor) and hammer throw (outdoor) in college. He said it’s not unusual for throwers to redshirt their first season as they become acclimated to heavier weights used in college compared to high school.
Back when he was starting his high school life as a freshman at Lincoln, Hiatt never figured track and field would be his sport.
He played on an undefeated freshman football team. The team’s coach – who is also the track and field coach – suggested Hiatt join the track and field team.
Since then, progress and longer throws have come each step of the way. As a freshman, he qualified for states in discus. As a sophomore, he finished fifth in discus and sixth in shot put.
As a junior, he won both events at states with personal bests on the same day. According to Gatorade, his discus throw of 182 feet, 11 inches placed him 59th in the nation among high schoolers and his 59-1 shot put ranked 94th.
He showed vast improvement by the end of last season compared to the start of the season.
“I started the year throwing at 52 [feet] and ended at 59,” he said. “Discus went from 150-ish to 182.”
Hiatt has continued to hone his skills during the offseason. He has a practice area set up in his basement that allows him to practice year round.
When he reaches college, he plans to major in business and accounting. NDSU’s track and field team faces some of the biggest schools in the country.
This year’s schedule includes meets hosted by Arizona State, LSU, Nebraska, Stanford and Washington.
“I want to be able to compete against the big FBS schools,” Hiatt said.
For now, he said he’s focused on his senior year and a strong finish to what has become a memorable high school track and field career.