NDSU's Otterdahl wins second national throwing title in two days

North Dakota State's Payton Otterdahl wins the weight throw Saturday during the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at Birmingham (Ala.) Crossplex. Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It took North Dakota State University a decade to crown its first individual national champion at the Division I level.

On Saturday, Payton Otterdahl made it two titles in two days.

Otterdahl won the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, throwing a career-best 79 feet 1.25 inches on his final attempt to extend his NDSU school record and claim his second facility record of the meet.


Otterdahl took first in the shot put on Friday night. He became only the second man in NCAA history to sweep the national titles in the indoor throwing events, joining Dan Taylor of Ohio State in 2004.

Georgia’s Denzel Comenentia opened the weight throw competition with a launch of 76-6.25 that held the lead through two rounds, but Otterdahl stepped into first place with a throw of 76-7.75 on his third attempt.

“I knew it was only a matter of time until I hit a big one,” Otterdahl said. “I didn’t quite connect with one right away, but I was confident in my training, and I knew it would come.”

Otterdahl extended his lead on his fifth and sixth throws, ultimately taking the gold by a margin of 29 inches over second-place Adam Kelly of Princeton.

“This is the perfect ending to my indoor season,” said Otterdahl. “I hit all the goals that I had for indoor, so I really couldn’t ask for more.”

A redshirt senior from Rosemount, Minn, Otterdahl is in his fifth year training under NDSU associate head coach Justin St. Clair – the Midwest Region assistant coach of the year in both the men’s and women’s categories this season.

“I have to give Justin just about all the credit. He made me into who I am today,” Otterdahl said. “I wasn’t a national-level guy in high school or for the first three years of college. He pushed me, challenged me, mentored me, and really built me into the athlete I am today.”

Otterdahl is NDSU’s first multiple-time national champion in men’s track & field since Nathan Schmidt won back-to-back Division II crowns in the decathlon in 2003 and 2004. He’s the first Bison to earn a pair of first-team indoor All-America honors at the Division I level.


In the women’s competition, NDSU junior thrower Maddy Nilles earned second team All-America honors with a 12th-place finish in the weight throw.

With her fifth-place finish in the hammer throw at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year, Nilles is now a two-time All-American for the Bison.

Nilles opened with a toss of 65-8.75 and then improved her mark on each of her next two throws. Her third and final attempt traveled 67-2 – good enough for 12th place.

Nilles entered the meet ranked 14th in the nation this season and out-performed that ranking by two spots. Ohio State’s Sade Olatoye won the NCAA title with a throw of 80-3 (24.46m).

It was the third All-America honor of the meet for the Bison women, with Nilles joining Bailey Retzlaff (8th place / 1st team All-America) and Shelby Gunnells (9th place / 2nd team All-America) from the shot put on Friday night.

Related Topics: TRACK AND FIELD
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