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Dentistry school, Olympic trials are Carlson's next hurdles

Buchanan, N.D. Whitney Carlson eventually will find her way to Nebraska. In about a week, in fact. And the circumstances will not be entirely different than if she had gone to Lincoln as a teenager. She'll be there as a student, studying to becom...

Buchanan, N.D.

Whitney Carlson eventually will find her way to Nebraska. In about a week, in fact.

And the circumstances will not be entirely different than if she had gone to Lincoln as a teenager.

She'll be there as a student, studying to become a dentist, which will take four years.

She'll also continue training in the long jump in preparation for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., next summer.

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The U.S. Olympic team will only take three long jumpers to London for the 2012 Summer Games. Will she be one of them?

"I doubt it," she said. "Just getting to go to the Trials is incredible. I'm going to keep training, give it my best shot, but it's a long shot."

Carlson isn't the type of person that's going to make bombastic predictions, self-promote or toot her own horn.

But to doubt her, even if she thinks a trip to London is unlikely, would be a mistake.

Throughout her career she improved each year. Her last competitive jump of 21-feet, 3-½inches was a career best and an NDSU record. She estimates a jump in the mid-to-high 22s will be required to get to the Olympics.

NDSU associated head track and field coach Stevie Keller, who without, Carlson said, "none of this would have been possible," isn't ruling anything out.

"With Whitney, the way she just seems to constantly improve, I wouldn't put anything past her," Keller said. "She was jumping really well at the U.S. Championships, and I think that gave her extra confidence that she can jump further. She had some pretty big jumps, upper 21s if they had not been scratches.

"Obviously, now with dental school, that's another big challenge. But training-wise she'll be limited to only the long jump, so that will kind of equal out."

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Although, training will almost have to become secondary now.

The first two years of dental school are said to be the most difficult, and even the 4.0-GPA owning Carlson expects a daunting year.

"From the sixth or seventh grade on, I knew I wanted to be a dentist," she said. "I guess there was the thought of, 'Do I really want to spend the rest of my life looking in other's people's mouths?' I guess I do."

Keller's bond with Carlson is unique. He's from Harvey, N.D., and watching his fellow Class B alum has been a rewarding experience.

"Athletically, it's pretty much impossible to replace someone like Whitney," said Keller, in his 11th year at NDSU. "But the thing a lot of us will miss most is the type of person she is. She's so easy to get along with. She's so competitive. She's just a very special person."

She's also among 30 finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, which "honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership."

But the awards and notoriety were always secondary. At her core she's a farm girl, whose dreams go beyond gold medals.

"I want to have a family and dedicate as much time as possible to them, and have a career that allows me to be a leader in the community," she said. "The greatest thing in the world would be to work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then be a volunteer track coach at a high school somewhere.

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"Hopefully, about four years from now, that's what I'll be doing."

Inforum searchword: track

Selvig is the sports editor for the Jamestown Sun

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