NDSU ready to defend its Summit League men's, women's track titles
It took the first wave of North Dakota State athletes 13 hours to travel to the Summit League Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Cedar City, Utah. The Bison are hoping the road is shorter to repeating titles in the men's and women's divisions.
Traffic congestion between Las Vegas and Cedar City was intense, about as confrontational as the meet at Southern Utah University is expected to be.
"I think it's going to be a battle," said NDSU middle distance standout Laura Hermanson.
Her presence automatically gives the Bison women an edge. One of Division I's best in the 800 meters will also compete in 1,500 and the 1,600 relay.
"I think everybody is ready," Hermanson said. "It's been stressful the last two days with finals, but school is over so let's go have some fun and win the conference."
Hermanson is the No. 1 seed in the 800 and 1,500. Whitney Carlson is tops in the 400 hurdles, long jump and heptathlon, Leslie Brost is tied for first in the pole vault and the Bison have the best times in the 1,600 relay and distance medley relay.
If the Bison repeat, they'll have to do it with depth against the likes of SUU, South Dakota State and Oral Roberts.
"I'm always hesitant," said Bison coach Ryun Godfrey. "I look at Southern Utah and they're at home and they redshirted kids last year so they could be ready this year. They have a lot of points on paper right now."
Same for the Thunderbirds on the men's side. NDSU suffered a blow when standout javelin thrower Riley Dolezal tore a tendon in his elbow and had surgery two weeks ago.
The Bison have top pre-meet performances with Ross Schilling in the 800, Scott Johnson in the hammer throw, Jeremiah Sellheim in the javelin, Shawn Francis in the pole vault and Matt Bishoff in the decathlon, an event the Bison own the top five totals.
NDSU also is favored in the 1,600 relay and the distance medley relay.
"It will be one of those head knockers with who gets hot and who does the most things right," said NDSU head coach Don Larson. "There are a lot of exceptional athletes. Based on the performances going in, a lot of crazy things could end up happening."
Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia