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North Dakota State’s Antoinette Goodman, right, wins the 200 at the Summit League Outdoor Championships last month at NDSU. Ashley Tingelstad, at left. placed second. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

For real: NDSU athletes’ upcoming trip to nationals still sinking in

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FARGO

The 200-meter final in the West Preliminaries was finished for just a few moments when somebody told Antoinette Goodman she qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She just kept walking.

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And she walked some more, she said, still not believing what she was told.

“I was like, whatever, I don’t think I did,” Goodman said.

That’s when North Dakota State head coach Ryun Godfrey flagged down Goodman to tell her the good news. It really still didn’t click until Goodman arrived back in Fargo and had a night to sleep on it.

“I got up in the morning and it finally hit me: I’m going to nationals,” she said.

She’s not the only Bison athlete to qualify in an individual event. Junior Paige Stratioti qualified in the 800 meters and senior Deborah John made it in the 100 hurdles. Stratioti is first up in the preliminaries today at 6:45 p.m.

Goodman and John race in their prelims on Thursday night along with the NDSU 1,600-meter relay team of Stratioti, Goodman, Morgan Milbrath and Ashley Tingelstad.

“It will be fun but it will be scary,” Goodman said. “I’m going to be nervous but it’s definitely the best meet I’ll ever be able to compete at.”

Godfrey said the 200 field is loaded, so Goodman will most likely have to set a personal record to make the finals. The same goes for John and Stratioti in their individual events.

Perhaps NDSU’s best chance is with the relay, which has beaten high-caliber teams all season. Even so, the Bison will have more qualifiers in Eugue, Ore., than 27 schools from the power conferences of the Southeastern, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast.

There are six Big Ten schools with fewer entries and NDSU is one of just three teams from non-Football Bowl Subdivision leagues that have at least four entrants.

“We’re ready to be competitive,” Stratioti said. “We know exactly what to do.”

Stratioti didn’t exactly know what to do for college while in high school at Duluth (Minn.) Denfield – until NDSU came calling. The Bison were her only offer for the longest time.

“I wasn’t a standout in high school by any means so it meant a lot that he was ready to invest in me before I started to have a lot of success,” Stratioti said. “I think he has a knack of looking for athletes who still have room to grow.”

Godfrey was right. Stratioti won the Summit League 400 as a true freshman and hasn’t stopped improving. Maturity turned her into an 800 runner, she said.

“If you would have asked me in high school this would be my event I would have said no way,” she said.

Several years ago, if you would have asked any local college track fan that NDSU would have this many qualified participants for the D-I Outdoors, they would have said no way. John said NDSU’s representation in Eugene is part of the success the entire athletic department has enjoyed this year.

“It’s just the same as the guys winning football nationals as the women’s track team being able to compete at nationals,” she said. “We feel that same pride and joy being able to represent our school and putting us on the map.”

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