Athlete of the week: Dani Detloff, Elk River, Track-and-Field: Born to Run

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

A career of relentless, hard-earned success by Dani Detloff in track-and-field is coming to a close, and she’s  just hoping it won’t end on the sidelines.

The Elk River sprinter and long jumper who’s led championship teams in points the last three years has missed conference and the first day of sectionals with a hamstring injury. She can walk and jog OK, and fulfill duties at her job at McCoy’s Pub, but not run all-out, not yet.

“This really stinks. Really bad timing,” lamented Detloff, hopeful that a relay team will qualify for state today and she’ll be ready by next weekend  to substitute, which is permitted.

Dani Detloff, sprinter and long jumper, has led championship Elk River teams in points scored for three years. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Detloff owns five medals from the last three state meets — sixth in 4-by-100 in ninth grade, seventh in the 200 in 10th grade, and last year’s trifecta of sixth in the 200, fourth in the 4-by-200 and sixth in 4-by-100.

The 5-foot-7, 140-pound athlete is one of the main reasons the Elks have captured three NWSC and three section true-team titles, and placed fifth, sixth and seventh at state true-team.

“Not only is Dani one of our most talented kids, she is our hardest worker, too,” said coach Russ Gnan. “In our workouts she makes everyone else better because they are trying to keep  up with her. We have had some elite sprinters the last 15 years and I would stick her at No. 1 for work ethic.”

Detloff acknowledged: “I push myself as hard as I can. I am very hard on myself and I want to get better.”

Her name is listed on the Elk record board in the 4-by-100 (48.93) and 4-by-200 (1:43.16). She’s second in the 200 with 23.35 (in 10th grade) and hoped to break that one at the end of her senior year. Her 17-10 3/4 long jump ranks second, and her 12.56 in the 100 ranks fifth.

Detloff never won an NWSC gold, but in 10th and 11th grades collected five seconds (two in the 200, the others in relays), two thirds (relay and long jump) and a fourth (long jump). In the 200 she got nosed out twice by Osseo’s Anuli Okonkwo,who took third at state last year.

True-team meets are Detloff’s favorites.  “They’re the most fun, no  matter where we placed, because all the girls are there,” said Detloff, who’s always at her best when it’s for team.

In three state meets, she’s had one first-place finish (the 100 this year), five seconds, three thirds, a fourth and a fifth along the way. “At this time  every year, her times suddenly drop,” said Gnan. “That’s why she’s been our MVP for three years.”

Detloff had the meet of her life at state true-team in 10th grade, leading the Elks to fifth place as she won long jump, took  second in the 200 and 4-by-100 and third in the 100. She was second-leading scorer. As a junior she notched two seconds and two fifths. This  year she earned seconds in long-jump , 200 and 4-by-100, and third in the 100.

“Our team always comes through in the big meets,” she reflects proudly. “I am grateful to be a member of a team with so many strong, fast runners and good  field events. The girls are so nice and the coaches really care.”

Detloff’s hamstring tightened while long-jumping at conference May 22, which turned out to be to a knot between two muscles. She tried a 90 percent sprint Tuesday and the pain returned. When the team went to Princeton the next day for sectionals, Detloff headed to McCoy’s instead. She dearly hopes to have a reason  to ask for next Friday and Saturday off.


Dani Detloff

Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: dad Daniel, mom Kristi, sister Molli, 16, and brother Connor, 14 … Sport: track-and-field … Academics: around 3.0 GPA … College: Bemidji State, track … Ambition:  be a veterinarian, or work for DNR in forestry

Favorite stuff — Class: Sports Marketing … TV show: “Hardly ever watch” … Movie: “Bridesmaids”” … Music: country, especially Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, and hip-hop … Team: Packers … Athletes: Brett Favre,  Aaron Rodgers, Clay Mathews …. Food: mom’s French Dip sandwiches, and meatloaf … Drink: Arnold Palmer (lemonade tea) and Lipton tea … Would like to visit: Montana (and will, this summer)