Elite Throwers Highlight Class A Field Events



Like in the pole vault, the horizontal jumps graduated major star power last spring. Standouts Mara Quam (1st in long jump, 3rd in triple jump) and Jenna Kes (1st in triple jump, 2nd in long jump) have left a hole that many will aim to fill this season. In the triple jump, a senior heavy class will attempt to take down Ailsa Gilbert of Watertown-Mayer, the preseason favorite. Gilbert took runner up honors in 2017 and has finished no worse than 4th at any of the previous three editions of the State meet. Her junior season appears to be her best chance of finally standing alone atop Class A. The class of 2018 will be looking to unseat her, as Kaly Banks of Cannon Falls, Emma Weatherly of Byron, Hope Howell of Mesabi East, and Addie Hubbard of Pequot lakes all own PBs between 36'8" and 37'1". With such a close range of best jumps, the competition for top five positions will be unpredictable. A few young studs could have a breakout season, in particular Maple Lake's Maggie Larson. Larson had a huge showing last postseason, jumping over 36 feet at both Section 5A and State to take 7th. Ashlyn Olson of New London-Spicer and Shaily Hakamaki of Cromwell-Wright are two other young talents that could make a leap. Don't sleep on Crosby-Ironton's Kylie Monson, who has hit 36 feet and joins the deep senior class.

In the long jump, 400m star Robbie Grace will look to earn her first State title (and potentially earn a double win). After jumping just a half an inch short in 2017, Grace looks like a near lock to jump 18 feet this season. Molly Reeves of Montevideo comes in as a wild card. Her PR of 17'6 ¼ " places her second among returners, but at State she jumped roughly 2 feet less than that. A strong performance places her as the top challenger to Grace for a State title. Kamryn D'Heilly of Annandale took 5th at last year's State meet, and she stands as the second highest placing returner, albeit with a shorter PB (17-0.5) than Reeves and sophomore star Molly Schultz of Rockford (17'2"). Another sophomore, Taytum Klink of Mora, has also hit 17 feet and could contend for a top five position. A multitude of athletes sit in the high 16s, creating a dogfight for State places, and even qualifying positions. In that group, a few names to watch out for are Michelle Neece of Pipestone, Stephanie Pickthorn of Lakeview, and Emma Weatherly of Byron, all of whom have PBs within a couple of inches of breaking 17 feet. And keep an eye out for CJ Adamson of Rochester Lourdes, who jumped 16'6 ¾ " as just a 7th grader. With a year of competitive track under her belt, along with some growth, she could be in line to make a huge leap in the near future.

In high jump, the story is a little different. Defending champion Arika Robinson of Concordia Academy comes back after a consistently dominant season. She did not jump below 5 feet all year, on her way to victory in 5'6". With some improvement, the Class A record of 5'9" could be within reach for Robinson in her senior season. The battle for second will likely come down to Madi Schirmer of Maple River, who finished in 3rd and just 3 inches off of Robinson's mark at State, and Hannah Ehlinger of Eden Valley-Watkins, who owns a 5'4" PR. A plethora of top ten State finishers will also be back, including Brynn Paumen of Maple Lake, Claire Nuessmeier of St. Peter, and Britt Kratochvil of Pequot Lakes. Chelsie Kurtz of Pierz holds the 3rd highest PR in the field, with a jump of 5'3", but did not qualify out of sections after an off day. If she has a repeat performance of her best mark, she is instantly placed into the conversation of one of the top few vertical jumpers in the state. In terms of depth, there are too many names to list: a total of 29 returning athletes hit 5 feet in 2017, creating a bottleneck for the next tier of jumpers. Qualifying to State will be incredibly hard in its own right, because a slight off day is enough of an opportunity for others to move up into the top two (as seen with Kurtz). With a qualifying standard of 5'2", we may see a relatively large field at State, as 25 have PBs between 5'0" and 5'2". And in a field that big, there's a decent chance for some surprises.