FARGO, N.D. – With next weekend’s Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championship fast approaching, there are no more dress rehearsals for the University of North Dakota track and field team. The NDSU Tune-Up on Friday was the last run-through for the Fighting Hawks and they’re clearly hitting all the right notes.
Junior Michael Quesenberry and senior Katelyn Weber broke both the school shot put records today, leading a band of throwers that turned in a dominant, top-to-bottom showing to close out the pre-conference schedule.
Quesenberry took down Dave Levos' 32-year-old record, topping out at 58 feet, 6 inches (17.83 meters). Levos had held the previous record of 57-04 1/4 since 1986. Weber became the first female thrower in UND history to top 50 feet, breaking her own school record with a new mark of 50-04 (15.34).
Weber will enter the conference championship ranked No. 1 on the women’s side, while Quesenberry is ranked No. 3.
“The throwers are getting it done once again,” said UND Head Coach Kevin Galbraith.
Behind the record-setting performances of the two seniors were a host of personal records and all-time top-10 entries, shuffling up the current Big Sky rankings in the process.
Weber was joined in the shot put by teammate Keely Walker, whose personal-record mark of 45-09 1/4 (13.95m) was the sixth-best in school history and also put her in the No. 6 spot in the conference rankings.
All told, UND’s number of PRs in the throws alone today totaled in double digits.
“It was a good day for us,” said UND Assistant Coach Drew Jones, who works with the team’s throwers. “We’re in that championship time and I was hoping for some big marks and we got them.”
Freshman Destinee Haas won the discus with a PR of 170-2 (51.86m), the fifth-best throw in school history. It also put her into second place in the conference standings, where she trails only teammate Molli Detloff, who was idle today.
“[Destinee] had a great day," said Jones. “She had a good series and competed well. NDSU has some pretty strong discus throwers and she got right in there and mixed it up with them.”
“Makala just keeps chipping away. She’s a young hammer thrower and keeps finding a way to get better every week,” said Jones. “I can’t ask for any more than that, especially someone so new to the event. She’s figuring it out quickly.”
Chris Evenson and Matt Culhane finished 1-2 in the men’s discus, with Culhane hitting a PR of 170-03 (51.89). Senior Lane Herbert was the runner-up in the javelin and cracked the Big Sky’s top 10 with a season-best throw of 182-03 (55.54m).
Speaking for his throwers, Jones said today’s tune-up meet served its purpose and that his group is where he wants it to be heading into the conference meet.
“I feel a lot more confident with where we’re at now. We needed that,” said Jones. “NDSU has a great throws program and I knew the atmosphere would be there today. I thought our kids did a really good job. Confidence is key going into a championship meet. We can do some good things if they can keep it rolling.”
Freshman Nick Krella continued his recent roll, winning the pole vault with a clear of 15-07.00 (4.75). It tied him for the No. 3 spot in the Big Sky and was the sixth-best leap in school history.
Other notable jumps included Autumn Stokes’ PR of 37-02.25 (11.33m) in the triple jump – ranking her seventh all-time at UND – and Aubrey Hovland (high jump) and Mikayla Johnson (pole vault) each matching their season-bests in their respective events.
Galbraith also finally got a chance to run a 4x100 relay for the first time during the outdoor season, and his quartet of Delante’ Sykes, Oluwaseyi Aguda, Shandon Toenies and Ethan Buckles clocked the seventh-best time in UND history at 42.27 seconds. That time was also good for ninth in the conference rankings.
It’s been a turbulent outdoor season for the Fighting Hawks, who have had to battle constant schedule shuffling due to weather issues. But Galbraith sees his squad peaking at the perfect time as the conference meet approaches.
“This sets them up really well. When you’ve got people getting PRs and school records a week before conference, that’s a good indicator.”
The 2018 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championship takes place May 8-11 in Moscow, Idaho.