Photos By Hillary Ehlen
Every athlete expects to be great. For whatever reason, that is not always the end result. Usually, this is due to the “expectation” of being great. Having that expectation removes the notion and need to work hard and train properly to become great. Those that take those steps and put in the work are the ones that meet their expectations of greatness.
Kelle’Mon Hinton is expecting greatness from himself in his senior season. He is also making a concerted effort to become great in practice and training sessions. Oddly enough, while Hinton was “mocking” a long jump for the photo you see on the left, he was eager to do as many takes as needed.
“I’m kind of low key training while we do this,” he said. Indeed he was, making a conscious effort to go through the proper form before lifting off into the sand.
Hinton has always had greatness inside of him. While most of that is thanks to his want and vigor to get better, some of it stems from his hometown of Ellendale, North Dakota. Hinton says the support of his town is what taught him the values to be successful in athletics and beyond. “One thing I learned from being around the people in Ellendale was that they supported me and it kind of balances back,” he said. “When someone does something for you, you learn to do it back to others. Whether it was through the things I was involved in or embracing the family aspect of a small town. That was very big.”
The senior was a stellar athlete for Ellendale High School. Hinton won three consecutive North Dakota Class B state titles in the triple jump, winning the event in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Add to that, two long jump titles in his junior and senior seasons for the Cardinals. Even when he did not win the state title, he was runner-up, earning second place in the triple jump as a freshman and in the long jump as a sophomore. To date, he has the fifth-longest triple jump in North Dakota high school history.
With that level of success, it’s easy to see why North Dakota State became interested in having Hinton’s jumping services. Through it all, Hinton has used his small-town demeanor and mindset to be successful in Fargo. “There’s a little bit of that because generally in a small-town population, there is not much variety in competition. Big cities usually push that or strive to be on top,” Hinton said when asked if he has a chip on his shoulder coming from a small area of the state. “I feel I have to represent now and do my best to do that. It’s so cool to even communicate with people back in Ellendale about what’s happening here. That encourages me and keeps pushing me forward.”
“One thing I learned from being around the people in Ellendale was that they supported me, and it kind of balances back. When someone does something for you, you learn to do it back to others.” – Kelle’Mon Hinton
Hinton has pushed forward each season for the Bison. As a freshman, Hinton took 12th in the triple jump and long jump at the Summit League Indoor Championships. He followed that up with a 10th place finish in the triple jump at the outdoor conference championships. In his second year in Fargo, Hinton only improved. Not only did he leap a career-best 47-11.00 in the triple jump at the Summit League Indoor Championships, but he also earned runner-up honors for that jump. He went on to place sixth in the triple jump at the outdoor conference championships.
Last season was easily the most successful out of his three seasons at North Dakota State. Hinton was an All-Summit League performer in the triple jump during the indoor season, extending his career mark in the event to 49-06.50, sixth best in school history. That was good for third place at the indoor conference meet. He also placed third at the outdoor conference meet in the triple jump and took fifth in the long jump, a vast improvement from the season before.
Now, in his final season as a Bison, Hinton has gotten off to a fast start. He won the triple jump in three of NDSU’s first five meets. He finished runner-up and third in the other two meets respectively. Hinton has also seen great strides in the long jump in his senior year. He finished in the top five in the event in three of NDSU’s first five meets as well. Hinton was also the conference’s indoor runner-up in the triple jump. Time is of the essence, and with a long road slate ahead of him and the team, he knows he’ll have to be focused and ready.
“The time is cruising. Our first away meet was in Nebraska, and it was a different dynamic after having half a year of no meets and then only home meets,” Hinton said. “Jumping there really showed me that I needed to get focused and get set. Being at home is a totally different atmosphere from other places. I’m just excited because I’m expecting to do great things.”
Despite being from Ellendale, Hinton sees plenty of similarities between his hometown and Fargo. Mainly, it revolves around pride. “In Ellendale, it’s Cardinals. We have a lot of Cardinal pride, but also they have high respect for NDSU and they hold true to that. Being here, I haven’t seen or experienced such pride,” he said. “I was hosting a recruit and he said he’d been to big school after big school and none of them compares to how much we support each other and cheer each other on. Being in Ellendale, I’d see a lot of that. One of my favorite things was being at a volleyball game and having a nice cheer section for the ladies. That was fun.”
While he is striving to be great, Hinton is aware that these are his final months with teammates and coaches. He says he has taken a step back this season and allowed himself to enjoy and soak up his senior season. However, he is quick to point out that leadership and mentoring are important for him this season. “I keep thinking about everyone who is under me now. I’m trying to embrace them to the point where they feel welcome or just be a mentor to them,” he said. “How can I still help them while I’m still here? That’s a huge thing that I’m looking forward to doing, partially because people have done that for me and I want to continue that.”
Not only is Kelle’Mon Hinton expecting to be great in the jump pits, but he wants to be great in other ways, too. Mainly, that’s being a mentor, a support for the underclassmen below him. Knowing the importance of reciprocating support is something Hinton learned growing up in Ellendale. While he will surely be great in the triple jump and long jump this outdoor season, being a leader is a different kind of greatness. It’s a type that cannot be paralleled.
Kelle’Mon Hinton has put in the work, time and effort to be great. He has already had phenomenal moments this season too. Therefore, he should no longer be “expecting” greatness; he is already on the path to greatness.
Hometown: Ellendale, North Dakota
High School: Ellendale High School
High School Enrollment: 144 students