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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 28 2010

The Summit League Indoor Track & Field Championship: Carlson key to Bison 3-peat chances

North Dakota State junior Whitney Carlson has the top performance in The Summit League in four events this women’s indoor track and field season: the pentathlon, long jump,

60-meter hurdles and 200-meter run.

That will be the least of her worries today when the Bison host the conference meet for the first time. She’ll most likely compete in 10 events today alone.

“It’s going to be pretty hectic,” Carlson said.

NDSU is the two-time defending champion for both the men and women in the two-day meet, which wraps up Monday at the Bison Sports Arena. If the NDSU women make it three in a row, odds are Carlson will have a lot of hands and feet in it.

“Most kids can’t do that,” said NDSU head coach Ryun Godfrey. “Last year at the indoor, she would get done with one event and literally run to the next event. She would switch out of her sprint spikes, get in her long jump spikes, get on the runway and take a jump and move on to the next event.”

It’s that kind of athleticism that NDSU was hoping for when Carlson was recruited out of Buchanan, N.D. It’s been steady progress to the point where she’s established herself already as one of the program’s all-time best.

She set two school records this year in the pentathlon and the long jump, the latter a leap of 20 feet, 4½ inches that broke Amanda Thieschafer’s record by a whopping 4½ inches. Thieschafer went on to success in the post-college track circuit.

“I look up to Amanda – I watched her in the U.S. Championships last year,” Carlson said.

Carlson’s day will start this morning with pentathlon events consisting of the 60 hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and the 800. In the afternoon, it’s on to the 60 hurdles preliminaries, long jump preliminaries, hurdles semifinals, long jump finals and the 200 meters.

She said there is no saving energy in any of the events.

“You have to go all out,” she said. “There are short sprints. I did it last year so I have somewhat of an idea what it will be like. It’s pretty much one event to the next the whole day.”

Godfrey says Carlson’s mental ability to shrug off a subpar performance in one event and excel in the next is exceptional.

“You have to keep your sanity, too,” Carlson said. “Once the event starts, you’re zoned in and you have to be ready to go. All that adrenalin comes through. Once it’s done, you calm down, maybe eat something and zone in on the next event.”

Bison to watch

North Dakota State athletes to watch in The Summit Indoor Track & Field Championships today and Monday:

Men

Weston Leutz, heptathlon

Jeramy Geditz, high jump

Women

Leslie Brost, pole vault (leads Summit)

Whitney Carlson, pentathlon, long jump (defending meet MVP)

Christine Bruins, 800 meters (best league time)

Kristen Killoran (defending high jump champion)

Today’s schedule

Summit League Indoor Track

& Field Championships

Women

9:30 a.m.: heptathlon

3 p.m.: weight throw 60 hurdles prelim

3:30: 60 prelims

4:00: distance medley

4:30: 60 hurdles semifinals

5:00 60 semifinals

5:30: 400 semifinals, high jump

6:10: 3,000 meters

7:00: 200 semifinals

Men

9:30 a.m.: heptathlon

3:00: weight throw

3:15: 60 hurdles prelims

3:45: 60 prelims

4:00: pole vault

4:15: distance medley

4:45: 60 hurdles semifinals

5:15: 60 semifinals

5:50: 400 semifinals

6:35: 3,000

7:20: 200 semifinals


Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546