College Notebook: Gabi Dixson a triple threat for Concordia throws

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photoConcordia University's Gabi Dixson is second in the NAIA in shot put this season.

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photoConcordia University's Gabi Dixson is fourth in the NAIA leader in hammer this season.

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photoGabi Dixson, Concordia University track and field.

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Gabi Dixson puts in a lot of hard work.

It has put the Concordia University junior at or near the top of the NAIA national performance lists in three events — discus, shot put and hammer.

That doesn’t mean the vivacious Dixson isn’t having fun during competition.

“Someone just told me, ‘I just love watching you throw because you still have a personality,’” the homeschool graduate who competed for Battle Ground High School said. “I’m pretty much the same. I try to hold it in focus a little more, but I’m still warming up and talking to the girls.”

Particular fun was had at last week’s Mount Hood Community College Twilight Meet -- where among the other competitors was Dixson’s sister Tori, an MHCC freshman.

“That was of course trouble,” Gabi Dixson said. “We were dancing and having a good time. Just trying to enjoy myself. If it’s not fun, it’s like, ‘Why are we here?’”

Gabi Dixson, an All-American last year in shot put and hammer, leads the NAIA this spring in the discus — by nearly 22 feet — with a best mark of 179 feet, 1 inch. She is second in shot put (47-1, 11 inches behind) and fourth in hammer (179-3).

One of the biggest challenges Dixson faces is the fact that being so strong in all three events means that her training time is split among all three. She and Concordia throws coach Mac Wilkins -- a former world record holder and Olympic gold medalist in the discus -- put more focus this season on that event, which Dixson said is her favorite of the three.

“It’s been a really big building year for me,” Dixson said. “I totally changed and improved my technique, and I’m getting used to the fact that I can’t muscle it. I want to take it to the next level. I’ve been working on technique a lot more -- just really grinding technique every day and working on my focus.”

Particular focus on the discus leading up to the prestigious Mount San Antonio College Relays in Walnut Creek, Calif., on April 19-20 resulted in her NAIA-leading mark.

“I’ve gone back to a medium-heavy workload the last couple of weeks, going back to throwing shot, disc and hammer at all the meets,” Dixson said. “I expect to go back down from there, but hopefully, when we go up to nationals, I’ll be nice and rested up.”

Helping with that rest is the fact that finals are over, and Dixson can fully focus on the athlete part of being a student-athlete.

“We’ll have more time to focus our attention,” she said. “In the past couple of weeks, coming back from disc training and training all three, I realize how much effort it is to do all three and try to focus your best on all three -- and sometimes doing all three in the same day. But it’s a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Dixson was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference women’s field athlete of the week twice this outdoor season, and also garnered NAIA national weekly honors after the Mt. SAC Relays.

“It’s really cool,” she said of those distinctions. “I’m honored when it’s given to me. I like the award, but I try not to focus on it and base my performance on it, because if I do well, I do well; but if someone else does well, then good for them, too.”

Concordia competes this weekend at the CCC Championships in Klamath Falls, Ore.

Dixson has already qualified for NAIA nationals May 24-26 in Marion, Ind., in all of her events, so there is no pressure this week — only the quest for championships.

“I’m just going to go out and try to have a good competition,” Dixson said. “It’s supposed to be nice weather, and I’ve been training really hard.”

Doucette named NWC softball Player of Year

photoStaci Doucette, Linfield College softball

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Linfield College senior Staci Doucette was named Northwest Conference softball Player of the Year for the third time in her four seasons with the Wildcats. The Evergreen High School graduate, who plays first base, led the NWC in home runs (17), RBI (59), total bases (117), batting average (.500), on-base percentage (.618) and slugging percentage (1.009).

Defending NCAA Division III champion Linfield (38-5), ranked No. 3, garnered an at-large bid to this year’s regional playoffs, starting Thursday.

Linfield’s Olbrich in NCAA-III nationals

photoAbby Olbrich, Linfield College tennis

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Linfield College senior Abby Olbrich received an individual selection to the women’s tennis NCAA Division III Championship.

The Skyview High School graduate, a four-time All-Northwest Conference selection, is one of 32 players in the singles bracket for nationals, May 24-26 in Cary, N.C.

McCartney named Sac State top newcomer

photoKalliah McCartney, Sacramento State University gymnastics

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Freshman gymnast Kalliah McCartney of Vancouver was named “Female Newcomer of the Year” at Sacramento State’s inaugural “Green and Golden Globes Awards” event.

McCartney, a graduate of CAM High School in Battle Ground, was freshman of the year in the Western Athletic Conference and an individual qualifier for NCAA regional competition.

Williams fourth in UW heptathlon history

Washington heptathlete Shelby Williams set a personal best and the fourth-best point total in UW history at the Pacific-12 Conference Multi-Event Championships at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field in Eugene.

A Ridgefield High School graduate, the sophomore placed 11th with 4,875 points with personal bests in the long jump, javelin and 800 meters.

Suggestions for College Notebook? Contact Kurt Zimmer at 360-735-4563 or kurt.zimmer@columbian.com