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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 11 2012

NDSU’s Weston Leutz holds on for Summit League decathlon title

FARGO – The finish line in the Summit League decathlon was a few wobbly steps behind him and North Dakota State senior Weston Leutz didn’t have much left in his gas tank. Marathon winners have looked less fatigued.

A thousand emotions went through his mind after he secured the 10-event title in a back-and-fort battle with Southern Utah’s Wade Nielson. Leutz provided a highlight for the home team in the second day of the Summit track and field championships at Ellig Sports Complex.

“This is everything,” said Leutz, a Bismarck Century High School graduate. “This is such a weight off the shoulders. Excitement. Joy. Everything.”

You can also add redemption. Leutz tore his hamstring in the second event, the long jump, in last year’s Summit decathlon. Add to that a groin injury and the road back wasn’t easy.

“There was apprehension coming into conference,” he said.

He had a slim lead after nine events heading into the 10th: the 1,500 meters. In the point system, he had to stay within 20 seconds of Nielson in order to hold his overall lead.

It was touch-and-go on the final lap if that was even going to happen. NDSU multi-events coach Stevie Keller sensed the same thing, telling Leutz on the backstretch that he looked like he was settling for second place.

“He saw me giving up a little bit,” Leutz said. “He knows what to say. He knows me.”

Leutz finished second in the decathlon as a freshman and won it as a sophomore. He finished this one with 7,212 points to Nielson’s 7,126.

Moreover, the decathlon actually turned into a 12-event affair for Leutz. He just missed making a scoring height in the high jump about an hour after the decathlon and ran the preliminaries in the 110 hurdles about 20 minutes before the 1,500.

“I honestly didn’t know about the 1,500 after that,” he said. “It got to be emotional and overwhelming.”

Leutz qualified for today’s 110 hurdles finals. NDSU finished the second day in the lead with 85 points to second place Southern Utah with 53.

The NDSU women had a similar lead scoring 90 points to South Dakota’s 62.

The Bison women found out earlier in the day that they had their work cut out for them when sprinter Antoinette Goodman was hospitalized with an infection. Distance runner Maddie McClellan did her part winning the 3,000 steeplechase overtaking No. 1 seed Kristen Radcliff of Oral Roberts in the final two laps.

“I was just super bummed when I heard, I’m sure she’s ticked off more than anyone,” McClellan said. “It put me in a mindset to score as much as I can. I know ‘Net would kill to be here.”

Teammate Amy Jo Thorne was third. McClellan’s time of 10:19.39 set meet and school records.

“Amy and I wanted to go 1-2,” McClellan said. “I knew I had a shot. We had someone to shoot for and I have high expectations to do the best that I can.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia