Whitney Carlson owned the 200 meters, the 300 hurdles and the long jump while competing for Carrington High School in the early 2000s.
The former Class B track and field giant swept all three events at the state meet for four consecutive years between 2003-06. Now in her early 30s and soon to be mother of three, Dr. Whitney (Carlson) Bruins is slated to be enshrined into the North Dakota High School Track and Field Hall of Fame this weekend.
Bruins, along with fellow 2019 inductees Bruce Evanson, Carla (Nelson) Field, Ellie Grooters, Kevin Miller, Joan Halland and Jeryl Murph, will be recognized Saturday at approximately 10:30 a.m. during the state track and field meet at the Bismarck Community Bowl.
"It must be that time of my life," laughed Bruins, a dentist at Downtown Dental in Jamestown. "Since I've been told I've been nominated for the hall of fame, I've had dreams at night about running track. I haven't had track dreams in a long time."
Bruins won 17 individual state titles and two state relay titles for the Cardinals in her prep career, beginning with a victory in the state Class B 800-meter relay event as a seventh grader in 2001. She was part of four state-championship winning teams produced by Carrington and still holds overall state records in the long jump (19 feet, 5 1/2 inches), the 300 hurdles (42.26 seconds) and the 100 hurdles (14.33), while also still owning the Class B record in the 200 (24.95).
Bruins was named the state's Class B senior track and field athlete of the year in 2006, before becoming a five-time NCAA Division I All-American at North Dakota State University.
"She's one of the best Class B track and field athletes to come along in our state," said Carrington High School track and field coach Greg Hoeckle, Bruins' former coach. "She was such a hard worker, and so smart and easy to coach. She had the talent, she just needed to fine-tune it."
Bruins' talent was first honed as a child, running and jumping on hay bales on her family farm near Windsor. Looking back, the obvious play was actually pretty solid training.
"Hay bales are the perfect stride length. It's one stride per bale," Bruins said. "I still think that maybe that's why I was able to learn things like turnover speed, stride length and stride patterns. And then jumping, too."
A 2006 Pingree-Buchanan High School graduate, Bruins also had plenty of Cardinal role models in which to follow, most notably Adriana (Friezen) Norris and Sarah Klein. The trio helped lead Carrington track and field to six consecutive state championships between 1999-2004.
Norris, a 2004 graduate, was inducted into the state's track and field hall of fame in 2018, while Klein, a 2002 graduate, was enshrined in 2016. Watford City's Christine (Bruins) Schmaltz, Bruins' NDSU teammate, roommate and sister-in-law, was also selected for the hall in 2018 and still holds the Class B girls record in the 800 (2:13.46). Bruins is married to Schmaltz's brother, David.
"I feel like when I see my mentors and the people I looked up to, like Adriana Friezen and Sarah Klein, it's pretty cool to know that I'm getting the same award they did," Bruins said.
Bruins churned out elite performances at every state meet in which she'd compete. She can recall fierce, but friendly, rivalries with former athletes such as Maple Valley's Kristen Kolloran, another NDSU teammate and the state's first Class B champion in both the girls 300 hurdles and long jump after Bruins' string of domination.
"For some reason every state track meet that I competed in went well," Bruins said. "I was very fortunate to never suffer any injuries. I never had a fall, I didn't trip over a hurdle. I never scratched out in a long jump. I never false started, I never dropped a baton.
"I think I was just really lucky."
Bruins ultimately became a nine-time Summit League outdoor champion and an eight-time Summit League indoor champion for the Bison, graduating in 2011 with a 4.0 GPA and the recipient of the NCAA Elite 88 Award for Division I women's track and field. She still holds NDSU records in the women's outdoor long jump (21-3 1/2) and 400 hurdles (58.12), as well as the women's indoor long jump (20-7 1/4). Her fifth-place finish in the heptathlon at the 2011 NCAA Division I outdoor championships in Des Moines, Iowa, is the best finish by a Bison in the event.
Bruins, who graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in 2015, said she's looking forward to reconnecting with her high school track family this weekend in Bismarck. The hall of fame stuff is an added bonus.
"I thought it might happen at some point, but I never really expect anything," Bruins said. "It takes me back to track and I feel like I haven't been in that world for so long. I've had dental dreams."