Fairmont’s Lardy to throw for D-I track & field program

D-I THROWER — Fairmont senior Alli Lardy (front center) signed her national letter of intent on Thursday to compete in Division I track & field for the University of North Dakota. Alli’s mother Traci (left) and father Nick (right), along with Fairmont head track & field coach Bob Bonk (back left) and Cardinals throws coach Brad Johnson (back right), watched the event at Fairmont High School. (Photo by Alexis Cubit)

FAIRMONT — In a matter of a season, Fairmont girls thrower Alli Lardy went from missing the Class A state meet to earning state runner-up honors in the shot put en route to becoming the school’s record-holder.

Five months after completing her outstanding junior season, Lardy added becoming a Division I athlete to her list of accomplishments.

On Thursday, the senior thrower signed her letter of intent to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

“I’m excited, but also nervous to be a D-I athlete,” Lardy admitted.

Distance runner Lauren Friese was the last Cardinal athlete to go to a Division I program, attending Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., in 2011.

Lardy’s junior season began with a goal. She had made up her mind that she wanted to be a state-qualifying thrower. On her journey to state, she ended up breaking the Cardinals’ shot put record. Repeatedly.

The current record, which she set at the Section 2A Meet, stands at 42 feet, 11 1/2 inches. Lardy shares that in common with her father, Nick, who holds the boys shot put record at 56-10 1/2.

“It’s fun because we kind of joke about it. He got third, fifth and fourth at state, and I got second so I joke that hey, I got second and you didn’t,” Alli Lardy said. “It’s fun having that connection.”

Lardy posted a 41-3 at the state meet, only behind Emma Gilbert of International Falls (42-7 3/4).

Meanwhile, UND track & field assistant coach Drew Jones, a Coon Rapids and Hamline University graduate, makes it a habit of keeping up with the state track & field meets in Minnesota. This past year, he was looking through the pictures as he normally did and noticed Lardy.

“I saw that she was the tallest, but not at the top of the podium. You can’t teach height,” Jones said, adding that many of the coaches he knows from the Cities had positive reviews of Lardy. “You can teach strength, but not the intangibles of throwing.”

Jones also was drawn to the fact that Lardy was a multi-sport athlete, participating in volleyball and basketball in addition to track & field. As a result, Jones reached out to Lardy to begin the recruiting process.

For Lardy, she knew that she didn’t want to stay in Minnesota, so her top school choices were UND and the University of South Dakota.

“I’ve always wanted to go kind of far away because I wanted to find myself (outside of) just high school,” she said.

After taking an official visit to UND during this past fall, Lardy knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“I decided to go with UND because they have an awesome facility there. Their coach (Kevin Galbraith) is awesome and super nice. Their school is beautiful,” the future Fighting Hawk explained. “I love snow, and it snows a lot up there. They treat their athletes nicer than a lot of other places I looked at.”

Lardy also speaks highly of Jones, calling him “a good person.”

“It’s fun to see how he can make people improve on their shot put and everything else,” she said.

Shot put is Lardy’s main event, but will be tried out in other areas such as weight throw, discus and javelin.

“I won’t be good at javelin, probably,” Lardy laughed. “It’s going to be an awesome experience up there trying different things.”

“We won’t give up on discus just yet,” Jones added. “There’s a big future for Alli once she hones in with the strength program. She’s going to be a pretty doggone good thrower.”

One of the biggest adjustments right away will be going from 2-3 months of training in the spring to 7-8 months as the Fighting Hawks compete in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. On the bright side, though, Lardy will be joined by a talented freshman class that Jones said the coaching staff is excited about.

During the 2016 indoor season, the female throwers scored 46 of UND’s 85 points for a program-best fourth-place finish at the Big Sky Meet. Molli Detloff won the weight while Jayd Eggert took the javelin conference title.

Academically, Lardy intends to major in secondary education and minor in special education and coaching, with the goal of becoming a teacher.

With all of the excitement surrounding Lardy’s college plans, she still has one more year to break her existing record and move from silver to gold on the state meet podium. She believes the key to her success will be in becoming a more frequent visitor to the weight room.

“I’m not really into the weight room, but I need to be,” Lardy smiled. “I think if I start going to the weight room, I’ll get a couple more inches in.”

Lardy’s last track & field season kicks off in April.

“I love Fairmont, I love the sports here. I’m sad that all the sports are coming to an end now, high school sports, obviously, coming to an end,” Lardy said. “It’s going to be different going to a different group of people (at UND) because there’s such amazing people here to throw with.”