Dickinson native Dakota Wolf ready to cap a breakout season at U-MaryDakota Wolf remembers looking at the scoreboard during the NCAA Division II cross country national championships on Dec. 4, 2010, and seeing a friend’s name in fifth place and her own in 60th.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Dakota Wolf remembers looking at the scoreboard during the NCAA Division II cross country national championships on Dec. 4, 2010, and seeing a friend’s name in fifth place and her own in 60th.
“I remember thinking, ‘I’m never going to be there,’” Wolf said. “I just accepted it for some reason, just because it was such a far jump. I didn’t know if two years would get me there in time.
“Then, all of a sudden, something clicked.”
Wolf has made her junior year at the University of Mary one to remember.
She went from 60th to a sixth-place finish at the cross country national championships last November and earned All-America finishes in the 1,500 meters and as part of the Marauders’ distance medley relay team in March at the national indoor championships.
“She’s definitely at the top of her game,” U-Mary head coach Mike Thorson said.
On Thursday, Wolf will try to conclude her breakthrough season with more success when the No. 8-ranked Marauders head to Pueblo, Colo., for the D-II outdoor national championships.
There, the Dickinson High School graduate will compete in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters.
Her focus will be on the 1,500, where she is ranked fourth in D-II with a season-best time of 4 minutes, 24.84 seconds.
“You never know what will happen,” Wolf said. “I’m just taking it step by step.”
Wolf said she can’t explain the reason for her success this season, though it is similar to the path she took while in high school.
Many female distance runners level out, talent-wise, when they become high school upperclassmen. For Wolf, those were the years she made her biggest improvements.
“I was looking back at my scrapbooks in high school,” she said. “It just seemed like one year, senior year, it seemed to click. It’s the same way for college. One year and it all comes together somehow.”
Thorson said Wolf owes some of her improvement to her health and work ethic. She hasn’t battled any major injuries in her three years at U-Mary and brings a “farm kid” mentality to the track, her coach added.
“She’s not afraid to work hard,” Thorson said. “One of the big things that’s really been a key to her success is she’s stayed healthy. She’s worked very hard and managed to stay healthy, which is tough to do at our level. We’re training right on the edge of being hurt and where you’ve got to train to do as well as she has. It’s kind of a fine line and she’s done a great job of it.”
U-Mary junior All-America distance runner Melissa Agnew, who lives with Wolf, said it has been exciting to watch her friend and teammate make major strides.
Agnew’s seed time in the 1,500 is 2.44 seconds ahead of Wolf’s.
“It’s really fun to see how much she’s improved,” Agnew said. “She’s been really good, but this year she’s totally stepped it up and has been doing awesome.”
Wolf said rounding out her season with a fourth All-America award is her primary goal this weekend. The 1,500 preliminaries are Thursday with the finals set for Saturday. Should she qualify for the 1,500 finals, she’ll run the 5K later that day.
“Top five is what I’d like to be,” Wolf said. “If I’m all-American and I’m eighth, I’m not going to complain. But it’s always nice to surprise myself.”