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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 14 2009

Hermanson takes 2nd

If North Dakota State needed somebody to carry a flag in some sort of opening ceremony, there’s little doubt Laura Hermanson would be the choice. She cemented her status as the poster child of the Division I transition by nearly winning a national title on Saturday.

The Bison senior finished second in the 800 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. In less than a year, she’s reached the final day of the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials and finished higher in a Division I championship speed race than most Bison followers ever thought possible – especially in the first year of eligibility.

“You hear people cheering for the smaller school and a school that not everybody hears about,” Hermanson said. “You hear people go, ‘Way to go NDSU.’ ”

Hermanson broke her own school record for the second time in three days with a 2:01.37, nearly two seconds ahead of her time in Thursday’s preliminaries. The differential left Bison head coach Ryun Godfrey nearly speechless.

“I’m still in shock about it,” Godfrey said after the race. “I didn’t think she would ever run this fast.”

Geena Gall of the University of Michigan won the event in 2:00.80 at the University of Arkansas’ McDonnell Field. Hermanson ran the first 400 meters in 59 seconds, was at 1:30 at 600, but ripped off the last 200 in about 31 seconds, something Godfrey said she’s never done.

“She gave everything she had,” Godfrey said.

Hermanson said she was in “complete shock” in the moments after the race, so much that she wasn’t sure of her answers to reporters’ questions. Like Godfrey, she too thought 2:01 was out of the question for her.

But it turns out her last race in a Bison uniform was her best.

“The support from the school and the community has been awesome,” she said. “In the last year, people have paid attention to NDSU track and field. Football and basketball are big for good reason but it’s nice that track has made a big wave.”

Hermanson won’t have much time to reflect on her accomplishment. She’ll be competing in the U.S. Championships in two weeks.

“It seems like I keep getting ready for big meets,” she said.

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia