Elite Throwers Highlight Class A Field Events



Ethan Heitman, Tyl Woelber, and Reid Pierzinski. Rarely has Class A been able to appreciate having three jumping talents like this all at the same time. But don't let the success of those three athletes fool you into thinking that jumping events in Class A aren't incredibly deep. In fact, none of those three athletes are the defending Class A long jump champion. That honor goes to Corleone Powell-Smith of Minneapolis North. Powell-Smith's winning jump of 22-2.75 last year as a junior was a slight improvement over his 21-7.75 he achieved in his 5th-place finish as a sophomore. Perhaps it is a little easier for us to forget about Powell-Smith because our database doesn't have many results from him, but a jumping talent like his should not be ignored. Powell-Smith winning jump was just an inch and a half further than Heitman, but in fact, it is Heitman that comes into the year with not just the best jump in Class A, but also in the whole state at an even 23 feet. Woelber and Concordia Academy's Casey Hackett also own some of Class A's top jumps, but Woelber is unlikely to do the long jump by the end of the year due to his commitments in relays and other events. Perham's Martin Lafond is probably the top name from the next tier of jumpers, all of whom have PRs hovering around 21 and a half feet. But while LaFond just missed the podium at State by finishing 10th last year, Logan Josephson of Redwood Valley and Alex Dumoulin of Southwest Christian (along with Hackett) did make the podium last year and have an excellent chance of doing so again in 2018 (especially considering last year was only Dumoulin's first year of high school track). Cromwell's Nick Johnson and Mayer Lutheran's Cole Hagen will also be podium threats in 2018, along with the best jumper not to qualify for state last year, Mora's Cal Wright.

There aren't many events that the caliber of talent in Class A is uniformly and vastly superior to Class AA, but this year's triple jump appears to be that rare case. Six of the top 9 best triple jumpers in the state are Class A, including five of the six jumpers who have already cleared 45 feet. First on that list is Reid Pierzinski, who actually touches 46 feet with his PR, and broke 45 feet in competition on more occasions last year than any other jumper in the state (in addition to being the premier hurdler in Class A). But Pierzinski only took 4th in the event behind two of his closest competitors, Tyl Woelber (who took 2nd a year after also finishing 5th), and the junior from the International School of Minnesota Preston Dahlen. Dahlen, the younger brother of former Class A hurdle champion Ethan Dahlen, has enjoyed a string or remarkable success in the triple jump (he also cleared 44 feet as a freshman and won all but three competitions he was in last year, with two of them being State and the Hamline Elite Meet). But perhaps with an even more exciting potential is St. Croix Lutheran's Jake Marzinske. Entering his sophomore year with a best jump of under 39 feet, Marzinske improved all the way up to 45-2.5 at Sections before settling into 6th place at State. There is a bit of a drop-off after Cackett and Lafond, to the next tier, and it would be hard to imagine a state champion coming from somewhere other than those six athletes, but crazier things have happened. If Marzinske can improve by six feet in one year, then Avery Hunt, Brett Jansen, and the aforementioned Nick Johnson will certainly have a shot to do something special too. Of course, we mustn't forget Beth-el's younger brother Matthias Algarin, who missed all of last season with an injury, but leaped 43 feet and qualified for State as an 8th grader in 2016. He's back and as good as ever if recent indoor competitions are to be believed.

The Class A high jump has both depth and heavyweights at the top, rivaling (and arguably surpassing) the talent in Class AA. The road to a State title goes through defending champion Tyl Woelber of Pipestone, whose monster leap of 6-7 separated him from the field a year ago. Not to be outdone, after placing 3rd at State, Ethan Heitman went on to best Woelber's mark by an inch at the USATF Minnesota JO Championships. That height places Heitman atop all of Minnesotan returners, with Woelber sitting in 3rd. And with a PR of 6-4, Dalton Cook of Bigfork will come back to improve on his 4th place showing in 2017. After these three, the depth in high jump is phenomenal. Six athletes have jumped 6-3, those being Lucas Simpson of Fairmont, Isaac Davidson of St. Charles, Jackson Johnsrud of Minnewaska, Adam Ripplinger of Holdingford, Steel Senske of Park Christian, and Saje Scheeler of Christs Household of Faith. Scheeler and Senske both scored points at State last year, taking 6th and 8th. 21 other athletes have jumped 6 feet or better, making this one of the toughest events to advance to State in. Even a slight off day can open the door to a handful of other top jumpers, and with only two spots per section, just qualifying is a monumental achievement. Johnsrud, Hayden Berhow of Fairmont, Hunter Westman of Mankato Loyola/Cleveland, Yahya Mader of Mounds Park Academy, and Hayden Gagnon of Eden Valley-Watkins are the athletes that will look to return to the State meet, but with such depth, it seems impossible to predict anything other than the top two spots, which Heitman and Woelber have appeared to have locked down on paper.