AUSTIN, Texas – University of North Dakota junior thrower Molli Detloff made school history today, becoming the first UND student-athlete to advance to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
She also re-wrote the school record books in the process.
Competing in the hammer throw at the NCAA Division I Outdoor West Preliminary, Detloff broke her own school record on all three of her attempts and finished fifth in the region. The top 12 finishers advanced to the national championship. The Elk River, Minn., product topped out at 213 feet, 2 inches (64.98 meters) on her third and final throw this afternoon after having entered the day holding the school record at 202-06 (61.72m).
“No one was thinking 64 meters. That might be the highest-level performance of anyone at the University this year,” said UND track and field head coach Kevin Galbraith. “Not to take away from anyone else this year – and some amazing things have happened – but that's a historic moment. You don't have stuff coming along like this very often.”
Detloff said she simply took a relaxed mindset into the day.
"I told [UND assistant coach Drew] Jones that I was going to get after it and if it goes, it goes, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. It happened to go," said Detloff. "I thought I had it in me but it wasn't real until it happened. I thought I could sneak in but never thought I could take fifth."
Detloff nipped her original school record on her first throw of the day, hitting a mark of 203-9 (62.19m), and followed up on her second throw with another school-record distance of 211-1 (64.35m).
After her first two record-breaking throws, an opposing throws coach turned to Jones and asked if he thought Detloff would have enough in the tank for her final attempt.
"I told him, 'Honestly, right now it wouldn't be too much for her to go to 65 meters,'" said Jones, with a chuckle. "She went 64.98. Dumb, lucky guess on my part."
Jones added: "I've gotten to the point with her that nothing really shocks me. Every time I've ever thought she's not capable of something, she's exceeded it."
Detloff is the only athlete in UND track and field history – male or female – to surpass 200 feet in the hammer throw.
“She has become the flag bearer for this program going forward,” said Galbraith. “She's the archetype for what we're trying to accomplish.”
Detloff will also compete on Friday in the discus, with a chance to advance to nationals in a pair of events. She entered regional competition ranked 18th in the discus.
"Our approaching this week was to have fun. This is all a bonus," said Jones. "We train all year mostly for the Big Sky meet and everything else is extra. That will be our approach tomorrow: go out, do your best and have fun."
Fellow UND thrower Katelyn Weber will compete in the shot put on Saturday.
Earlier on Thursday, UND sophomore Kyley Foster tied for 29th in the pole vault after having entered the meet ranked 44th in the region. The Detroit Lakes, Minn., native topped out at 12 feet, 11.5 inches (3.95m) today.
“She cleared just under her personal-best bar. She had a good day,” said Galbraith. “That might get lost in Molli's shadow, but that was just shy of her best jump. I think she competed really well.”
Detloff was unable to carry Thursday's hammer throw into the discus on Friday. She fouled on each of her attempts to bring a quiet end to her memorable weekend. Detloff will now return to Grand Forks to begin preparing for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships June 7-10 in Eugene, Ore.
Fellow thrower Katelyn Weber competed in the shot put on Saturday, and the junior from St. Clair, Minn., placed 32nd after entering the weekend ranked 46th in the West Region. Her throw of 48 feet, 9.5 inches (14.87 meters) was just over a half a foot away from her school-record mark of 49-4.5 set earlier this year at NDSU.