Athlete Spotlight: Leah Dusterhoft Signs with University of South Dakota

Iowa City West Track & Field athlete Leah Dusterhoft signs to compete collegiately for the University of South Dakota. Continue below for a Q&A with Leah to learn more about her and her choice to become a Coyote!


I usually go by Leah, but a lot of people actually call me 'Mom'. When I'm with my close friends, on the track team, or [as the manager] on the wrestling team they all refer to me as the mom of the group because I'm always the one that's making sure everyone has their keys or is behaving nicely.

Favorite pre-meet food?

Ever since seventh grade my mom and dad will bring me a peanut butter and butter sandwich at my meets. I think the key to a good pre-meet food is something that wont slosh in your stomach while you're throwing, and peanut butter/butter sandwiches are perfect.

Favorite athlete and/or pro team?

I don't have any single favorite athlete, but my favorite sports team by far is the University of Iowa Wrestling team. I've grown up in a wrestling family and have followed Iowa Wrestling my entire life. It'll feel weird to go to a school without a wrestling program.

Best track & field memory?

Last year I had a pretty rough season. I only PR'ed by three feet in the discus and I was having problems with throwing out of bounds. My parents will probably disagree with me that this is their favorite memory, but It is mine. During prelims at Regionals my first throw went left and out of bounds. My next throw my right foot slipped and I stepped out of the ring. I could tell everyone was super tense because if I didn't just throw one in bounds, I would have no chances at moving onto State. But my third one went straight down the middle at 120-some feet. It was a good feeling to prove to myself that I could still perform under high pressure and a tense situation.

How did you get started in throwing the discus and shotput?

My sister actually did track and field in seventh grade, and as the younger sister I just did all the same activities she did when I got to seventh grade. When I got started, Ted Carpenter a family friend offered to help coach me because he had coached disc and shot at the high school level before. So I started working with him and never stopped.

How have your coaches helped you develop into the athlete you are today?

Ted Carpenter, my outside coach, has always kept me focused on myself and my own training and not thinking about how I compare to others. You can only control your own throw, not someone else's. Danica Haight at [Iowa City West High School] has always prepared me well for what to expect at meets and keeping me calm during competition.

What professional athletes have inspired you over the years?

He's not a thrower but American Freestyle Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs has been a big inspiration for me. He is one of the toughest competitors in the world, but wins with grace and seems to be a very humble guy. Watching him lose in Rio this year was crazy, but he's a reminder for me to not take winning for granted.

What led you to choosing the University of South Dakota?

When my parents and I got on campus, USD just felt like home. I loved the small town feel of Vermillion paired with the big school feel of USD. I loved the campus, the art program, the people, and the opportunities that I knew would be available for me at USD.

What degree/major interests you at USD?

I will most likely be majoring in Graphic Design. Right now I'm contemplating adding a Mass Communications minor, but I also may be interested in education, so right now I really don't know.

What are your goals for Track & Field in the future- collegiately and beyond?

I'm very excited to see how I can do in college. I would love to be a conference champion and maybe even a national champion. I know AG Kruger sees my potential so I'm excited to see what happens.

You can check out Leah's high school stats so far on her MileSplit athlete profile here!

Photos courtesy of Leah Dusterhoft.