Lillejord takes aim at nationalsAndy Lillejord has quickly gone from multi-event novice to D-I national champion material. The former multi-sport star at Jamestown High School will compete in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division I indoor national championships this weekend at the University of Arkansas.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Andy Lillejord has quickly gone from multi-event novice to D-I national champion material.
The former multi-sport star at Jamestown High School will compete in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division I indoor national championships this weekend at the University of Arkansas.
There’s nothing fluky about Lillejord’s rise. He’s already broken the North Dakota State record in the event and begins today’s competition in Lafayette, Ark., ranked 10th in the country.
“It’s like anything else, I guess, the more work you put into it the better chance you have at success,” said Lillejord, a 2009 JHS graduate. “I really didn’t know what to expect. Some of the events I’d never done before, so from that standpoint I’ve kind of surprised myself.”
Lillejord’s total of 5,661 points at the Summit League indoor championships Feb. 24-25 set the new school record and was his second straight conference title in the event.
This is his first trip to nationals, however, although that isn’t dampening his expectations.
“I’d really like to get into the top eight that would be first team All-American, so that’s something I’m shooting for,” he said. “The competition at a meet like this is going to be extremely high, so I won’t be able to make many mistakes.”
Lillejord came to NDSU with an impressive resume. He was the state champion in the long and triple jumps as a senior for the Blue Jays. The same year he was second in the pole vault.
“I knew when they recruited me it would be to try heptathlon and decathlon,” Lillejord said. “I thought I’d give it a shot and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Lillejord said he still struggles with the hurdles, but has been making steady progress. Finding enough time to work on everything, plus devote time to his studies in zoology, takes work, but that’s what he signed up for.
“You can’t cover everything in one week. We have a schedule and we work on certain things,” Lillejord said. “My coaches do a great job. I just try to follow what they tell me to do.”
Lillejord is one of two former Jamestown athletes competing this weekend at nationals. Katie Conlon will be running in the 5,000 meters for the University of Oregon. Conlon is one year older than Lillejord, but the two were teammates for the Blue Jays.
“She’s had a great career for the Jimmies and at Oregon,” Lillejord said. “She’s made the most of her opportunities, and that’s what I’ve tried to do too.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com