FARGO — The throws are pretty good, but nothing great, these days for former North Dakota State national track and field champion Payton Otterdahl. And he’s OK with that.
Otterdahl finished third over the weekend in the shot put at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York City, a performance that further solidified his standing as a solid threat to make the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
All of his throws were within 20 centimeters of each other. In other words, he was ultra consistent.
“Right now it’s early in the season,” Otterdahl said. “I’m happy with it. It set me up for the future. They say consistency is the first indicator of big throws to come.”
Ryan Crouser, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, won the event with a mark of 72 feet, 9¾ inches. Joe Kovacs, the 2019 world champion, was second at 70-0¼ and Otterdahl was third at 69-2.
“None of them felt particularly great,” Otterdahl said. “I didn’t have one throw that came out of my hand and I knew was going to go really far.”
There’s still plenty of time to change that. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials are scheduled June 19-28 in Eugene, Ore.
Otterdahl is full time with track and field. He’s a volunteer assistant at NDSU who is training at the Shelly Ellig Track and Field Facility. It’s been a win-win.
Not only does he get to work with one of the top collegiate throwing programs in the country, he gets to help coach his two younger brothers. Junior Trevor Otterdahl continues to move up the Bison all-time top 10 ladder and true freshman Maxwell Otterdahl has already broken freshman records at NDSU.
Maxwell Otterdahl broke Payton’s high school records at Rosemount High School in the Twin Cities.
“They’re doing very well right now,” Payton said. “I’ve got everything I need here. Fantastic equipment, I get to train in a familiar environment and I get to train with my little brothers and help them out as well.”
Payton Otterdahl said he has a couple of indoor meets remaining including the USATF Indoor Championships this weekend in Albuquerque, N.M. His outdoor schedule has yet to be confirmed.
“I’m really in a good position right now,” he said. “I’ll need a couple more breakthroughs in technique and I’ll start to have some distances that will be able to make that team.”
But, he said, it’s too early to start thinking about making the Tokyo Games.
“I don’t like to get too caught up worrying about the Olympics,” he said. “I’m more about focusing on the indoor meets and getting my technique the way I want it. I’m not stressing too much about the Trials, it’s still a ways away.”
Otterdahl won’t be the only athlete with local ties to participate in an Olympic qualifier. Two runners have declared for the U.S. Marathon Trials Feb. 29 in Atlanta.
Former NDSU runner Eric Loeffler and Val Curtis from Minot, N.D., who won the Fargo Marathon last year, qualified in the men’s and women’s divisions respectively. Curtis finished the Fargo in 2:43.08, which at the time met the “B” standard for the Olympic Trials.
Loeffler, also a former Fargo Marathon winner, will compete in his third Olympic Trials. He most recently won his 40-44 age group in the prestigious Houston Half-Marathon with a time of 1:08.00, or 5:12 per-mile pace.