DES MOINES, Iowa – In her four years at the University of North Dakota, redshirt junior Molli Detloff has seemingly logged one historical “first” after another in the Division I annals of North Dakota track and field.
First thrower to eclipse 200 feet in the hammer throw.
First Big Sky Conference MVP.
First two-time Big Sky Conference MVP.
First national qualifier.
On Saturday, Detloff will check another milestone off the list when she competes in the hammer: UND’s first in the DI era to compete in the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships. In fact, she will become the first woman ever to represent the school at this championship, Division I or II.
UND Assistant Coach Drew Jones, who works directly with the program’s throwers, says that while Detloff’s latest milestone is not lost on either of them, this weekend is all about putting in the work.
“It’s an accomplishment and it’s a big deal. She’s one of 18 in the United States who made it here. If you count how many track programs there are across the country, she’s literally beaten out thousands of people to be here,” said Jones. “But you try not to look too hard at that and that’s who she is: it’s never about the accomplishments; it’s about what she can do next.”
Detloff qualified for the USATF Championships back in April, when she put together a historic weekend during UND’s annual trip to California. While throwing at Long Beach State’s Pacific Coast Intercollegiate, Detloff shattered her own school record by nearly six full feet when she topped out at 219 feet (66.75 meters). That mark lasted one day.
She topped it the following day at the Beach Invitational with a throw of 219-06, her eighth time eclipsing 200 feet to that point.
Detloff later repeated as Big Sky Conference MVP in May and while she was unable to secure a second straight national berth later in the month, Jones says Detloff is lacking in neither confidence nor anticipation heading into Saturday.
“She gets to throw with people who she idolizes tomorrow. Anytime you can do that as an athlete, it gets you going. She’s just excited to be here. She’s throwing well right now. If she throws like that [on Saturday], we’re in a good spot.”
With a month off between the regional meet and this week’s action, Jones says he and Detloff have filled the gap by relying on their normal summer training routine. The impending competition has not altered their strategy.
“It’s been a summertime approach,” said Jones. “We’re not coming in with any expectations necessarily, so it’s been full-scale summer training for next year. This [meet] is the frosting on the cake for the year. If we throw well, great. If we don’t, it is what it is. Either way, she’s one of the top 18 hammer throwers in the country, so just to be here is a tremendous accomplishment.”
What Detloff and Jones have in mind is a more ambitious, long-term goal, one that would be yet another first for UND track and field: the Olympics.
“The plan is for Molli to stick around for an extra year [after graduating next year] and train for the Olympic trials, and this is that next piece that connects everything,” said Jones.
He continued: “After she’s finished, she can look back at all the trophies in her collection and realize what she’s accomplished here. Right now, she is focused on the work.”