MOSCOW, Idaho – On the first full day of competition at the 2018 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championship on Thursday, competitors were forced to deal with cold, overcast and windy weather conditions.
That suited the University of North Dakota just fine.
The Fighting Hawks, who have overcome the elements all season long, brushed aside another unseasonable day and racked up seven all-conference performances, making it the program’s most decorated single day at a conference meet since the start of its Division I era.
Junior thrower Molli Detloff, the reigning Big Sky Outdoor MVP, repeated as the conference discus champion and took the runner-up spot in the hammer throw to headline the day’s performances for UND.
When the day had ended, UND’s women’s team was atop the standings with 52 points. The men’s squad sat in eighth place.
“A day like this doesn’t freak us out,” said UND Head Coach Kevin Galbraith. “The weather didn’t allow for us to get fantastic marks, but our people just competed really well. It might not have been a perfect [weather] day for some folks, but that’s okay for us.”
Detloff and freshman teammate Destinee Haas entered the weekend ranked 1-2 in the Big Sky in the discus and that’s exactly how they’ll go out. The former hit a season-best mark of 164 feet (54.00 meters), while the latter made her conference debut with a throw of 162-4 (49.49m).
Detloff overcame Haas late in the event to win her second straight conference discus title.
“Had she not done it, Destinee Haas was sitting in first place and we still would have had a champion,” said UND throws coach Drew Jones. “It’s nice to have a young person like Destinee come in learn from Molli, and she handled her first conference meet well. From the very first throw, she had her foot on the gas pedal.”
It was the second all-conference performance in as many events for Detloff, who had opened the day with her second-place effort in the hammer throw. Her mark of 210-10 (64.28m) was topped only by Big Sky record-holder Brooke Andersen of Northern Arizona. UND’s Jessica Drady finished third at 179-3 (54.64m) to join Detloff on the podium.
“[Jessica] came in ranked fourth and got in there and competed hard,” said Jones. “She had never scored prior to this in any conference event, so to score and get all-conference is something to be very proud of.”
Jones was also quick to single out sophomore Makala Keefe for praise after she placed fourth in the discus and fifth in the hammer.
“For someone who had an uneventful conference meet as a freshman – she made the meet but wasn’t necessarily in contention – to come back her sophomore year and be in the top five in both of those events is a heck of a feat,” said Jones. “I was very happy with her. She stuck her nose in there and made it work for the day.”
In the men’s throws, junior Michael Quesenberry nabbed his second straight third-place finish in the shot put with a mark of 57-10 ½ (17.64). Teammate Ian Collins also scored with an eighth-place showing.
“He and I would probably say this year feels a little better,” Jones said of Quesenberry. “He kind of stole one last year. This year, he threw well. After prelims he was in the lead and he knew he would get chased down by some heavy hitters. But he came in and gave it everything he had. It was fun to see it go in that direction for him. It definitely felt earned.”
North Dakota also received a pair of all-conference efforts and points from five different student-athletes in the jumps.
Freshman Nick Krella was the runner-up in the pole vault, landing the fourth-best mark in school history with a leap of 15-9 1.4 (4.81).
UND Assistant Coach Joe Silvers, who oversees the jump events, said it took Krella some time to adapt to the weather but he quickly found his stride.
“As the competition progressed, he got better at being ready to go and he did not let his [early] attempts rattle him,” said Silvers. “He did well with keeping his mind focused on executing his cues and it paid off for him.”
Teammate Alex Torp finished seventh with an outdoor PR of 15-1 ½ (4.61).
On the women’s side, Isabel Waite reached the podium for the first time, placing third in the high jump with a mar of 5-5 ¾ (1.67). Teammates Erica Benson and Aubrey Hovland placed fifth and seventh, respectively, to give UND a trio of scorers in the event.
“The group did very well with staying relaxed and focused on their execution of each jump. I’m proud of how they competed, and I’m thrilled that Izzy landed an all-conference performance,” said Silvers. “I think Erica and Izzy will continue to develop and go into The Summit League next year and make some noise. I’m also proud of Aubrey, our fifth-year senior. I couldn’t be happier that she got to finish her career on a high note, scoring points for her team at the conference meet.”
Fellow freshman Shandon Toenies, meanwhile, clocked a PR of 22.10 seconds in the 200-meter prelims.
“It was a lot of fun to watch,” said Galbraith of his team’s Thursday showing. “All of those performances came from events that I wasn’t personally coaching, so I got a chance to watch and be a glorified cheerleader. It’s great to see your team doing really well.”
Galbraith continued: “Every place counts, every point counts, every performance counts. That’s what makes the conference meet the best meet of the year. It’s more exciting on a team level than a regional or national meet, in a sense, because that’s more about the individual. This is a team focus and everything matters.”
The final day of competition begins Friday at 9 a.m. Pacific/12 p.m. Central at Dan O’Brien Outdoor Track Complex.