HOUGHTON - No matter what happens, Michigan Tech senior Molly Wiltzius will end her career as the best female thrower in Huskies history.
Wiltzius owns the Tech records in the shot put (41 feet, 3 3/4 inches), discus (144-5) and hammer throw (153-2) and has put each distance far enough out of reach that her name should be etched there for some time. Her achievements mark an accomplishment any athlete would be pleased with by the time graduation comes.
But she is not quite satisfied. Not yet, anyways.
While Wiltzius owns the Huskies record books, a trip to the national finals still remains on her personal checklist. This week, with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships at Grand Valley State, the Kingsford native will have another shot (well, really, a discus throw) at making it to Pueblo, Colo. for the national championship meet.
"My ultimate goal is to make it to nationals. That has really been my goal all four years of college," Wiltzius said. "This is the closest I have gotten. I'm really hoping to get there."
She has set a goal within a goal - reach 155 in the discus toss, the event she dubbed as her best.
She thinks with the 11-foot improvement from her personal best, she will be assured a berth in Colorado.
"I could make it with less than that, but 160 (feet) is automatic qualifying, so I think anything around 155 should be good enough," Wiltzius said.
So what does Wiltzius have to do to make an 11-foot jump? While not impossible, it is a daunting gap.
"I am really focusing on my height, where I release the discus really," Wiltzius said. "I have really been coming out low, so I have been really trying to focus on my height. After that it is speed through the circle. The faster I go, the faster and farther the discus is going to fly. Those are the two things I have been working on ... Hopefully it pays off."
After graduating on Saturday with a degree in pharmaceutical chemistry, Wiltzius has been able to devote all her time to throwing.
Which is helpful, as the higher her comfort level in the circle, the farther her discus flies.
"I really need that comfort in the ring," Wiltzius said. "When you get to a different facility, I need to get a lot of warm-ups in because there is a different surface a lot of the times. It can be faster or slower, but you just need to be comfortable in the ring."
The GLIAC Championships should provide the perfect conditions for Wiltzius to reach her best ever distance. Along with a singular focus on competition, Wiltzius will be going up against "the best throwers" in the nation.
Seeing where there discs fly to might be all the motivation she needs to hit a similar target.
"The GLIAC is the best throwing conference in the nation, bar none," Wiltzius said. "So that really helps going up against the best. Can I compete with them? I mean I want to score points for my team to, so its not just about making it to nationals, but helping score points for our team."
If Wiltzius is not able to make the required distance in Allendale, she will be attending a "last-chance" meet (or two, or three) to reach Colorado.
"I have started looking at the difference last-chances around the area," Wiltzius said. "I have potential to go to three last-chance meets."
But Wiltzius is hoping it doesn't come to that.
She is already the greatest thrower in Tech history. Now she wants to set the bar even higher.
"It only takes one throw," said Wiltzius, the daughter of former Gladstone residents Andy and Brenda Wiltzius. "Just that one explosive day and I am there."