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Dickinson State Blue Hawks track and field’s Whitney Leuenberger develops heading into fourth national appearance

Whitney Leuenberger has gone through a transformation in her college career. After being told to use a spinning technique her freshman year, she went back to a gliding motion, and it's been working ever since. But Leuenberger isn't in a dance class.

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Dickinson State junior Whitney Leuenberger throws during the North Star Athletic Association women’s indoor track and field championship on Feb. 20 at the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex on South Dakota State’s campus. (Submitted photo by Stormie Sickler)

Whitney Leuenberger has gone through a transformation in her college career.

After being told to use a spinning technique her freshman year, she went back to a gliding motion, and it’s been working ever since.

But Leuenberger isn’t in a dance class. She’s a Dickinson State track and field thrower who will be competing in the NAIA national indoor meet today at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field in Johnson City, Tenn.

The junior qualified in the shot put, while senior Josh Reed (600 meters), junior Jose Chorro (60 hurdles) and freshman Jay Liggins (triple jump) qualified for the Blue Hawks as well.

Leuenberger, a Sidney, Mont., native, had always glided in her throwing motion in high school, and has been progressing ever since she made the switch back last season.

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“It feels really great,” Leuenberger said with a smile. “My ultimate goal my freshman year of college was to make it to nationals at least once. And I’ve made it - this will be my fourth time.”

She’s making her second trip to the indoor national meet and has been to the outdoor national meet twice.

“It shows she has confidence, at least going into the outdoor season, that she’s throwing decent right now,” DSU head coach Chris Creal said. “For her, it’s good exposure for her in competition and good opportunity for her to see where her power and ability are right now.”

Leuenberger said putting hours in and improving on her technique has paid dividends.

But, because she’s a triple major in accounting, business administration and finance, Leuenberger may spend even more time studying with 19 credit hours this semester.

“So I’m going to school almost all day, and then I get ready for practice at 3 (p.m.), practice until 4 or 5 o’clock, and then go and do my studies,” Leuenberger said with a laugh. “So it does take a lot out of you.”

But Leuenberger said she’s focused on the end goal of getting her certified public accountant licence after college.

DSU freshman Macy Vail said Leuenberger has been a huge help to her own career. In fact, Leuenberger befriended Vail when she knew hardly anyone coming to campus from Declo, Idaho, and even helped her get a job.

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“Her pushing me helps me to become better because she pushes herself so much,” Vail said. “It helps me to push myself more.”

And although Creal’s staff works closely with Leuenberger’s schedule, he said they don’t really need intervene too much in her training - she’s dedicated enough as it is.

Creal said it sure made his job easier in his first year coaching at DSU already having national qualifiers on the team before he even stepped foot on campus.

“Whitney is a pretty hard-working girl as it is,” Creal said. “There’s not really a whole lot you have to force her to do or anything. She goes out and does it. As a student, she’s very dedicated to what she does.”

And Creal said that dedication has translated into her throwing, adding that Leuenberger’s power and strength put her in these national meets.

“For throwing, it’s really about building power and strength. Unlike the rest of your track events, these are the kids that build a majority of their time developing muscular strength and power” Creal said. “With her going into it with a positive mindset … I think she’ll walk away with some sort of success.”

Leuenberger agreed, but added one more ingredient to that concoction of a good thrower.

“I think it takes technique, strength and determination,” Leuenberger said, “just trying to put your mind to it, go out there and throw your best.”

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And in an event like shot put, Creal said, anything can happen on the big national stage.

“Another thing with an event that’s about technique, anybody on any given day can pop one off,” Creal said. “Hopefully she just goes into it with a positive mindset, relaxed and focused on what she needs to do.”

Related Topics: BLUE HAWKS
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