Jump High, Run Far - An Interview

(Photo provided by Lexi Erickson)

Personal Bests:

100: 12.9 split

200: 28.8

400: 1:04

800: 2:25 split

1600: 5:28

3200: 11:39

4K CC: 15:06

5K CC: 18:50

High Jump: 5'4"

Athletic honors:

Cross Country:

    Iron Range All-Conference: 2011-16

    State Qualifier: 2011-13, 15

Track and Field:

    Iron Range All-Conference: 2013-17

    Academic All-State: 2013-17

    State Qualifier: 2014 - 3200, 2015 - 4x800, 2017 - High Jump, 4x100

Who are your main coaches and how does each one help you?

My coaches are Jen Erickson, Sheryl Hendrickson, Paul Hjelle, and Dan Zika. Mr. Zika is my high jumping coach. He is the most positive person I have ever met. He has instilled confidence in me and my ability to perform each and everyday. Mr. Hjelle is my cross country and track distance coach. He runs with us at practice and is always there to make sure we are working hard. He has always been at the finish line after each race with mile and lap splits with a smile on his face no matter the outcome. Sheryl is my sprint/handoff coach. I have recently started running in the sprint relays. She has been there every step of the way helping me with handoffs and sprinting in general. Jen is not only my head track coach, she is also my mother. My mom has always been the hardest on me and I wouldn't be the athlete or person I am today without her. I have never been able to get away with anything or take the easy way out.

Tell us a little about your athletic past.

I grew up in International Falls and was involved in baseball, basketball, hockey, and running. I started to run when I was five. The track team would have an event called Monday Night at the Races every other Monday during the summer. The kids participating would get ribbons. Since my mom is the coach she would bring my brothers, sister, and me to each one and I loved racing and getting ribbons. I especially liked winning and beating my brothers.

Why did you choose cross country, hockey, and track & field as your sports? Do they complement each other for the most part?

I wanted to run cross country because my older brother was a runner and I wanted to do everything he did.  I started out playing basketball and my brothers and sister played hockey. I started playing hockey in 5th grade and played both basketball and hockey 5th grade.  I decided I liked hockey more and I quit playing basketball in 6th grade. My dad is the high school girls hockey coach and he is the one who influenced me to play. I chose track and field because I loved to run and I am a terrible softball player. When I was in Elementary school there was an Elementary Track and Field Meet for the 4th-6th graders.  I loved the fact that there were many events to choose from. I was excited to become a track and field athlete ever since 4th grade.  Being a long distance runner gave me the endurance to play hockey and hockey gave me a break from running. Being able to focus on something different between CC and track helped me continue to love the sport of running.

(Photo provided by Lexi Erickson)

Do you find it complicated to do field events and running events in the same meet?

It depends on what events I am running on that day. Some meets I run the 1600, 3200, 4x400, and other meets I may be running the 4x100, 4x200, and the 3200. Running longer distances before jumping is more difficult. My coaches try and work around high jump, but coming from a small town with a smaller team, it is hard to do because almost every athlete has four events.

Do you practice both running and field events daily?

Yes, I practice both daily. I do my running workout first and then go practice high jump when I am done. My high jump coach, Mr. Zika, works with the other jumpers, and when I get there I hop in along with everyone else. He is very patient and always waits for me to finish my running workout. My teammates also do other events, either on the track or other field events. We try to help each other out as much as possible. 

Why do you enjoy living in "The Icebox of the Nation"?

I enjoy living in International Falls because of the small town atmosphere. I like being a part of a small school where I know everyone and everyone knows me. Being a part of a small town with small sports teams has given me the chance to have playing time and the opportunity to run multiple events each year. I grew up in International Falls and I have not lived anywhere else.

 Are you going to college next year?

I will be attending St. Catherine University in the fall and will be running Cross Country and Track & Field. I did not get any sport scholarship money, only an academic scholarship.

How tall are you?

I am 5'9". I am hoping to continue to high jump and would like to try the heptathlon. I am willing to run anything and everything! 

(Photo provided by Lexi Erickson)

What would you tell a younger you?

Always have fun. Don't worry about winning or losing. Enjoy every moment and don't be afraid to try new things. Work hard and never give up. Always remember to talk to the athletes you are competing against and shake their hands at the end of each race or event.

Since you are a multi-event performer I imagine warming up and staying warm during the meet is important to you. How do you achieve this objective?

The warmer the weather, the better it is for me. I dislike warming up...it is my least favorite thing to do, but it is also the most important. I usually run about 200 meters and go through typical warm-up drills like high knees, butt kicks, and lots and lots of skipping.

Would you recommend competing in a field event and a running event or is this only for the super talented?

I recommend trying every event, and competing in both running and field events. It's not for the super talented, but the hard working. You never know what event might work for you in the long run and over the years, some events become easier while others increase in difficulty.  I didn't start high jumping until 9th grade because my field event in junior high was pole vaulting.

What is your general race strategy? Has it changed for you since you began running?  Is it still changing?

I like to start fast and stay in the lead, or right behind the leader. I tend to go out too fast and then fall off the pace at the end of the race. I have gotten better at running my own pace and running smart. I try not to think too hard about it, I just run.

What does it feel like to win most of the time? Do you wish that you could excel and yet not be famous? Do you feel pressure to win or is it second nature because you have always done so? 

I love to win. I am very competitive and always try my hardest to succeed. I don't associate winning with fame, I try to win for myself and for my team. I tend to add unneeded pressure upon myself as the season progresses. I have always thought that I was expected to win but I have come to realize that I am only expected to try my hardest and not worry about my place but my effort.

(Photo provided by Lexi Erickson)

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