Heather Bergmann
Heather Bergmann sprinted down the javelin runway at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, where she finished in sixth place.

In my youth, our family often visited the Native American Indian dwellings featuring rock art painted onto or etched into the sandstone in Colorado. These pictographs and petroglyphs have long fascinated me.

Throughout my photography career, shadows cast by the people I photograph fascinate me as well. The ties between the two struck me clearly when I made this photograph of KU’s Heather Bergmann in June 2012.

Bergmann was competing in women’s javelin final during the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. I made all the requisite photographs of Bergmann with a telephoto lens from in front of the senior and from the side, with a wide-angle remotely-triggered camera.

During the finals, I worked my way up a small hill set behind the runway. I hoped the higher angle would make something unique since rarely are javelin throwers photographed from behind. With a short telephoto lens, I captured the moment the javelin was released from Bergmann’s hand and sailed into the distance.

Turning my attention to trying something very graphic, the rock art from Colorado came back to me. I watched as the sun began to paint a perfect shadow when Bergmann began her sprint down the runway. I felt I created a special photograph.

Native Americans created rock art to record their history, favorite hunting grounds, maps, battles and the arrival of Anglo settlers in their wagon trains. Some of the art served as the earliest messaging in North America. 

The photograph of Bergmann’s shadow is my homage to the fabulous art and history of the only true natives of our country, which thankfully is preserved in much of the southwestern United States.

Jeff Jacobsen has photographed practically every big event the sports world has to offer during a professional career that spans over 53 years. Jacobsen has seen things up close that only a diehard sports fan could in their dreams. His work for the Topeka Capital-Journal, Arizona Republic, Kansas Athletics, Inc., many national publications and now Action Images Photography, Inc., cemented his reputation as one of the nation’s finest sports photographers.

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