Dettmann making strides on BG track team after numerous injuries

Brad Frank and Brad Frank

Just as Autumn Dettmann is returning to top form, the BG track and field is preparing to be in top form for the end of the outdoor season.

Dettmann, a redshirt junior, has returned to full strength after a series of nagging injuries.

She first started participating in track and field her freshman year of high school.

On her way to becoming an elite high school runner, she said the advantage she enjoyed was being relatively new to the sport with no pressure to perform well, especially against those who had been running track for much longer.

“Because I just started in high school, everything was new to me, and so I didn’t put pressure on myself to do well. So I was just kind of having fun right away,” Dettmann said. “A lot of girls start really young, and since I didn’t, I was able to fall in love with [track] and stay in love with it.”

Her first major injury occurred in a meet during her senior season in high school.

Dettmann broke her ankle and was forced to restrain from training for the entire summer.

The injury bug continued to follow her when she got to college.

Dettmann sat out her entire freshman year of college, in both cross country and track and field, and was redshirted.

She said not being able to run affected her confidence, but now in her fourth year at BG, Dettmann is gaining more and more confidence with each meet.

“Sitting out led to confidence issues,” she said. “By having to continuously come back from injuries and feeling like I wasn’t able to put in the kind of training other girls were was tough.”

The hardest part about returning from injury was finding the confidence to be able to train and perform at the level she was accustomed to.

“I just wanted to start doing better again. I was just running a lot slower than I did in high school, and that was really hard,” Dettmann said. “So I just wanted to come out and prove that I deserved to be here and that I could still run fast.”

She said the advantage of being new to the sport has worn off and is now feeling the pressure to perform well.

In response to the pressure, she has continued to improve in more than two seasons at BG.

In 2008, she recorded four top-10 finishes in five meets and set a season-best of 5:10.90 in the one mile run at the Mid-American Conference Championships.

A year later, Dettmann again set a season-best at the MAC Championships, where she exceeded her finish the year before by six seconds and improved from 17th to 12th.

In 2009, she recorded three top-10 finishes in a more varied set of events than the season before, as she added the 3000 meter run to her indoor arsenal and the 3000 meter steeplechase for the outdoor season.

After a fairly successful indoor season, this past weekend at the All-Ohio Championships, Dettmann set an outdoor personal record in the 1500 meter run en route to a fourth-place finish.

“It felt really awesome. It was the best race that I’ve had in my whole college career,” Dettmann said. “I felt great before [the meet]. I felt great during it. It makes me really excited about the upcoming meets and about being competitive at the MAC meet.”

The key for her continual improvement has been her confidence, and Dettmann said setting records has helped her confidence.

“I’m not being intimidated with the competition as much, and that’s helped by this being my fourth year here,” Dettmann said. “So I’m being more confident, and everything is clicking together.”

And now, as she is regaining her top form, Dettmann looks for her teammates to continue to improve so that the entire team can be at its best for the end of the outdoor season.

“We’ve had a lot of girls keep improving, keep recording personal bests, and I think once we all get put into our main events for our big meets at the end of the season, it’ll all come together, and hopefully we can improve on last year’s finish,” Dettmann said.

As far as some personal goals for the rest of her career, Dettmann said she is eyeing a top finish at the conference meet that would be good enough to qualify for the regional competition.

“I would love to not only make the podium at the MAC but be in the top three, receive a medal, and potentially run at the regional meet.”