Hot Shot Put-land

Senior captain Jessica Putland’s journey to the 2015 NCAA D-III Indoor Track and Field Meet last weekend where she placed at 11.

Senior+Jessica+Putland+throws+at+Klas+Field+at+last+year%27s+Meet+of+UnSaintly+on+May+2%2C+2014.+Piper+track+and+field+will+return+to+Klas+Field+on+April+10+and+11+for+the+HU+Invite.

Gino Terrell

Senior Jessica Putland throws at Klas Field at last year's Meet of UnSaintly on May 2, 2014. Piper track and field will return to Klas Field on April 10 and 11 for the HU Invite.

Gino Terrell, Sports Editor

Senior captain Jessica Putland finished at 11 in the Shot Put at the 2015 NCAA D-III Track and Field Meet last weekend as her 46-foot-7.5-inch distance in the Shot Put at the 2015 MIAC Championships on March 7 earned her the trip to nationals.

“She’s gone up 10 feet in the Shot Put [from high school to college] which is a dramatic jump. Most people don’t get to see that in the course of their career,” said Josh Blaschko, assistant men’s and women’s track and field coach. “We measure the Shot Put down to the centimeter, which is less than a quarter of an inch. So when we measure to that little increment 10 feet is a big deal.”

Putland won the Weight Throw with a 53-foot-3.75-inch distance day one of the conference meet on March 6, but it was her second place finish the following day in the Shot Put that earned her a trip to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for the national meet on March 13 and 14.

“It feels amazing,” Putland said of going to the national meet, “a little unexpected because I was more than likely to go in weights than the Shot Put. I threw out of my mind on Saturday [March 7].”

Putland being a national qualifier in the Shot Put event came as a surprise to her, but then again her entire collegiate track and field career was a surprise to her as well.

Growing up in the small town of Belleville, Wisconsin, Putland played softball as she was trying to follow in the footsteps of her mother, a successful softball player. Putland’s uncle was also a throwers coach so it made sense for her to start playing softball at age five. She continued softball up until middle school before she decided to move on to track and field.

When it came to softball Putland had the strength to be a threat at bat, however, her inability to catch in the outfield is where she struggled. After hearing about an athlete who was on the track and field team at a nearby high school, a phenomenon who received a scholarship from Notre Dame, Putland was inspired to join the track and field team.

By the time Putland was a junior in high school, she had won conference three times. Her talents were not overlooked by colleges and she started receiving letters from multiple colleges including Hamline. After being blown away by the culture of Hamline and liking the Twin Cities location, she decided to enroll and join the track and field team.

Last season, Putland finished first in the Weight Throw at the conference indoor championships and her distance was the 18th best distance in the country. However, she was cut off from an appearance at nationals as they only take 17. This season she made an appearance at the national indoor meet with a rare career improvement in the Shot Put, which has taught Putland a valuable lesson.

“Never give up and only you can decide how good you are,” Putland said. “If I hadn’t worked so hard I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Blaschko said she’s a hard worker who leads by example for the other throwers on the team.

“She’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever worked with in my 10 years of coaching,” Blaschko said.

Transitioning into the outdoor season Putland said she’s having fun with the team’s current squad.

“We have a really fun team and we click really well this year,” Putland said. “My teammates are really successful too, so it’s fun to be a part of that.”

Putland said she was on “cloud nine” when she qualified for the national indoor meet.

“It’s really cool I get to go to nationals the same time as the [men’s] hockey team. It’s really fun to be a part of the Hamline legacy right now,” Putland said.