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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 21 2013

Bison boast sizable field at NCAA West Preliminary track meet

FARGO – Brittany Page and Leslie Brost were second-grade students in Watertown, S.D., with a gym teacher named Ryun Godfrey. He’s still teaching them, only now Page and Brost are seniors on the North Dakota State track and field team.

Godfrey is the head coach, but nobody seems to be in a reflective mood because there is still work to be done. Page and Brost will be two of NDSU’s 10 female athletes who will represent the school at the NCAA West Preliminary meet in Austin, Texas.

“His coaching has been engrained in us for a very long time,” Page said. “It’s crazy. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet.”

What is hitting the Division I preliminary meet is the number of competitors NDSU qualified. The 10 is more than five Southeastern Conference schools. There are 16 schools from the Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Big East conferences that have fewer than 10.

“Nobody probably thinks of us as being up there with those teams,” said junior Ashley Tingelstad, who qualified in the 400 meters and two relays, “but I’d like to say we’re on that caliber of level. Nobody really expects us to do big things, but yet we prove people wrong all the time.”

How has NDSU done it?

In many cases, the program takes all-around high school athletes and sees big improvements when they train year-around in one sport. That includes the two Ds – dedication and discipline.

It’s not for everybody.

Page said she came to NDSU with 10 freshman recruits, but only she and Brost remain. A couple others graduated.

“Track is 24-7,” Page said. “You have to get good sleep and nutrition. You’re just not dedicated to it two hours a day. It is a lifestyle.”

Godfrey said coaches constantly talk about the importance of what athletes do when they leave practice. It doesn’t always hit home right away, either.

“I think one of the biggest things is you see freshmen come in here and at a meet will go to the concession stand and still eat like they did in high school,” he said. “They’re still buying a candy bar and a hot dog. We talk about all those little things that add up and make a big difference.

“The other thing we tell them: It’s simple, but it’s not easy. The concept is simple, you have to recover after we train you hard. You have to go home and recover so we can train you hard again, but if you’re not doing the right things outside of practice, there’s only so much we can do.”

The top 12 finishers in each event this weekend advance to the NCAA championships. Brost is ranked ninth in the pole vault, and hammer thrower Emily Lesser is ranked 19th.

On the men’s side, hammer thrower Casey Orgon is ranked 10th. NDSU qualified six athletes, its largest field as a Division I school.

But Godfrey said paying attention to the rankings is not encouraged.

“We love this meet because you might be ranked 40th, but everyone has to show up and perform on that day,” he said, “and I feel good about our kids, because they usually rise to the occasion.”

In the case of Brost and Page, that started in elementary school in Watertown.

“It makes it a little bit tougher to see them finish their careers and move on, but I think they’re ready for the next chapter in their lives, too,” Godfrey said. “They’ve definitely made the most of their time here.”


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

NCAA West Preliminary

Bison qualifiers

Thursday-Saturday

Austin, Texas

Men

1,500 meters: Travis Fitzke

110 hurdles: Matt Tetzlaff

400 hurdles: Jerome Begin

Hammer throw: Casey Orgon

Javelin: Tyler Parker

Shot put: Brandon Berghuis

Women

200 meters: Antoinette Goodman

400: Ashley Tingelstad

800: Paige Stratioti

100 hurdles: Deborah John

3000 steeplechase: Maddie McClellan

400 relay (John, Brittany Page, Tingelstad, Goodman)

1,600 relay (Tingelstad, Stratioti, Page, Melissa Kitching)

Pole vault: Leslie Brost

Hammer throw: Emily Lesser

Javelin: Sierra Rosenau