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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 12 2014

Bison throwers topping one another regularly

FARGO – It’s become a subject of laughs and good-natured ribbing. These days, the throwers on the North Dakota State men’s and women’s track and field teams are asking this question: Whose turn is it to break the school record today?

The men’s shot put mark has changed hands more times than roommates Brandt Berghuis and Alex Renner pay their phone bills. On the women’s side, Emily Lesser has joined the shot put record party.

“A record is a record,” Renner said, “but in the end we’re still teammates. We push each other. It’s nice when you have somebody that is good to practice with and when you compete, he’s good to have on your side as well.”

Renner is the current record holder with his toss of 56 feet, 7½ inches at the Thundering Herd Classic last weekend. It came one week after Berghuis set the mark of 56-2 at the Bergan Invitational at Iowa State.

It broke an 18-year-old record set by Landusky Hertz. The kicker: There’s most likely more to come. Berghuis is a sophomore and Renner is a redshirt freshman.

“We’ll keep pushing each other all the way to the end and see where it takes us,” Berghuis said.

The time between the Bison women’s record was slightly longer than one week. Try 14 years.

“It was about due,” Lesser said.

Her throw of 50-4¾ last weekend broke Julia Karst-Gray’s mark set in 2000. The junior from Maple Grove, Minn., threw farther last spring in outdoor, so she figured it was a matter of time assuming good health. An MCL sprain in her knee suffered over semester break slowed her progress.

Berghuis said he just feels lucky to be on the team. He’s overcome a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus on his left knee and inflammation issues in his right knee – all the result of high school football or wrestling in Rosemount, Minn.

All three throwers will tell you the reason for the excellence is assistant coach Justin St. Clair, who specializes in the throws.

“He came in and completely revamped the program,” Lesser said. “We have a lot of determined athletes and with Justin’s dedication to us it’s a recipe for success. It really is. It’s kind of cool to be a part of it.”

NDSU set six school indoor and outdoor throwing records last year in the men’s weight throw, shot put and hammer throw and women’s discuss, javelin and hammer throw. The most notable of those marks was set by Casey Orgon, who became the school’s first men’s qualifier to the Division I Outdoor Championships.

Orgon graduated, but the fact records are still falling is a testament to a successful culture that is developing with the throwers.

“We try to cultivate an environment that is supportive but very competitive,” St. Clair said. “It goes to show that when they commit to doing all the right things, good things are going to happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Also last week, junior Trevor Berner threw a personal record in the weight throw by over two feet and now stands third in school history. Of the top 10 indoor school marks in the shot put and weight throw, eight are held by throwers from the last three years.

With his record holders underclassmen, there’s more to come, St. Clair said. The Bison have long had a history of outstanding reputations in most other events. Lately, add the heavy-lifting throwers to that list.

“If it isn’t right now,” Berghuis said, “it will be in the future because there are a lot of great people on our team that are really, I hope, going to do something in the future.”

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia