Kalispell native Nikki Krueger earned her first national title on Friday morning after winning the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the shot put, but it took every last throw to do it.
On the third day of the championship meet in Yankton, South Dakota, Carrol College athlete, and Glacier High School graduate, Nikki Krueger was sitting in second place in the shot put competition with only one throw remaining.
Krueger entered the championship ranked first in the shot put, having thrown more than a foot further than her nearest competitor.
Her first throw was a foul. Her second throw was decent, and slotted her into the third position with four more chances in the ring. Then she fouled again, and two competitors moved ahead of her.
Her fourth throw didn’t change the rankings, but her penultimate one moved her into the runner-up position. At last year’s indoor championships, Krueger finished seventh, so a silver medal would be a huge jump on the national scene, but she wasn’t finished.
The 6’1″ junior entered the throwing ring for the final time, wound up, and let nine pounds of metal fly.
Her last attempt was her best. Krueger threw the shot 14.12 meters (46 feet, 4 inches) — just short of her lifetime best throw of 14.22 meters from February which broke her own Carroll indoor school record — but four inches clear of Paige Sutter from Indiana Wesleyan who was relegated to second place.
“I was in fifth in finals and had to put the pressure on to come out on top,” Krueger said after the meet.
“The whole season I focused on the process, building confidence and knowing what I could do in the ring,” Krueger said. “But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how perfect your technique is, it’s who throw the furthest.”
The Glacier High School grad was a two-time Class AA state champion in high school, winning the shot put in 2017 and the discus in 2016. She was a two-sport athlete for the Saints until this winter, having suited up for the school’s women’s basketball team.
“Nikki has trusted herself and the process,” Saints throws coach Jimmy Stanton told the Beacon after the meet. “I’m very proud and excited for her continued progress and success.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the weight of the collegiate women’s shot put. The author regrets the metric miscalculation.
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