GULF SHORES, Ala. – Kaileigh Dill has always pushed herself to reach new heights in her track and field career.
The Plattsmouth High School graduate gained a national championship view Thursday with her abilities in the shot put.
Dill earned first place at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. She delivered a national title to Tabor College with a winning distance of 47 feet, 1 3/4 inches.
Dill said Friday that she was overjoyed with her accomplishment. She became the first Tabor College woman to win a national shot put championship.
“It honestly didn’t hit me until I was on the podium and heard them call my name,” Dill said. “And then it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this really just happened.’”
Dill began her journey to the national championship stage as a member of Plattsmouth’s track and field program. She earned back-to-back Eastern Midlands Conference shot put titles in her junior and senior years, and she qualified for the state meet in the event both seasons. She placed ninth in the Class B State Meet her senior year with a throw of 36-7 1/4.
Dill continued making progress with her distances at Tabor College. She qualified for the national meet as a sophomore and had sights on repeating the accomplishment as a junior. The coronavirus pandemic eliminated the outdoor track and field season in 2020.
Dill began her 2021 season on a winning note by finishing first in the shot put and hammer throw at the Pratt Community College Beaver Classic. Adversity then entered the picture when she broke her foot during the second meet of the spring. She used her knowledge and experience to overcome the setback in the shot put circle.
“This past year has been crazy,” Dill said. “I finally just felt more comfortable with my training, and it all started to connect, even with breaking my foot early in the season. I trusted the process, the good and the bad.”
Dill made a major statement in early May with a pair of titles at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships. She pocketed gold medals in the shot put (42-8 3/4) and hammer throw (145-2) and earned third place in the discus (125-5).
Dill took that momentum with her into the national meet. She uncorked a throw of 45-0 1/4 on her first attempt and launched a winning distance of 47-1 3/4 on her next try. She added distances of 43-10 and 44-6 3/4 on her final two attempts.
Doane University sophomore Allison Skala finished second at the meet with a throw of 46-6 1/4. Kasey Keith of Mount Vernon Nazarene (45-10) and Jordyn Anderson of Concordia University (45-9 1/4) placed third and fourth in the 23-person event.
In addition to her athletic achievements, Dill also excelled in the classroom at Tabor. She graduated summa cum laude from the college this spring with a major in elementary education. The summa cum laude distinction recognizes students who compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.85-4.00.