FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Any other year and North Dakota thrower Molli Detloff would likely be celebrating a Big Sky Conference championship. As it is, she’ll merely have to “settle” for a school record, a runner-up showing on the podium, and one of the two best weight throws in conference history.
Detloff broke her own school record in the weight throw Saturday during the final day of competition at the Big Sky Conference Indoor Championship. Her mark of 68 feet, 3.75 inches (20.82 meters) has been topped by only one other competitor in Big Sky history – and that individual won today’s event.
Northern Arizona’s Brooke Andersen won the conference title with a mark of 73 feet even (22.25), denying Detloff of that distinction. Still, it was another record and another trip to the podium for the most decorated student-athlete of the track program’s Division I era.
“Any other year,” said UND head coach Kevin Galbraith, “and Molli’s mark would’ve won the conference by a couple of meet. But it’s still a great mark.”
Detloff’s position coach, Drew Jones, was effusive in his praise of his star pupil.
“She would tell you that she is a little disappointed to not win, and that is what makes her a great competitor. It just happened that the league’s best thrower is throwing now, too,” said Jones. “I think both of them have benefited from the other pushing them to be their best. I am very proud of Molli and she certainly left a lasting mark on the Big Sky in her last indoor meet.”
Detloff’s performance was one of several big showings that helped UND’s women’s team finish in seventh place. Host Northern Arizona swept both the men’s and women’s team titles for the second straight year. UND’s men’s team placed 11th.
UND also sent a pair of Fighting Hawks to the podium in the jumps. Junior Nolan Hovland was the runner-up in the high jump to land his third all-conference performance in as many years. Hovland cleared 6 feet, 10.25 inches (2.09 meters).
Fellow junior Kyley Foster placed third in the women’s pole vault, also earning her third trip to the podium in as many years, with a mark of 13-01.00 (3.99).
“They both wanted one more bar and had good shots at it, and the ability to do it, it just didn’t happen,” said Galbraith. “They competed hard and they competed well. They’re just getting better and better as they go. Nolan was competing with a lot of understanding and maturity so that’s great to see.”
UND assistant coach Joe Silvers said Foster, the school record-holder in the event, had to grind things out today.
“I’m very proud of Kyley for keeping her composure and determination throughout the competition. It was not her smoothest competition by any means. We struggled at the second and third bars. Anytime it takes three attempts early in a competition, that can rattle you. But Kyley stayed focused and worked things through. All things considered, a great day and a performance she should be proud of,” said Silvers.
Silvers’ echoed Galbraith’s assessment of Hovland’s maturity.
“Nolan did an amazing job,” said Silvers. “The consistency he’s had through this indoor season really played in his favor. He was clean through his first three bars and that really put the pressure on the rest of the field. I’m proud of the way Nolan competes.
“Overall, I could not be more happy with how the jumpers competed this weekend. The upperclassmen led the way with their experience and the freshmen really stepped up to the occasion and showed that they are ones to watch in the future,” said Silvers.
UND received points in the relays on both the men’s and the women’s side. The women’s 4x400 of Lucy Steinmeyer, Heather Harrower, Meghan Janssen and Tianna McKinney placed seventh with a time of 3 minutes, 51.55 seconds.
“We just didn’t have it on the track like we’ve had it in past seasons,” said Galbraith. “The jumpers and throwers were the strength of our team this weekend.”
North Dakota is now idle for three weeks until opening the outdoor season March 15-17 at the Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C.