Nyalaam Jok Already Breaking Records as a Gopher


Now a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, Nyalaam Jok has already cemented her status as a Minnesota high school and Gopher legend. Jok is the current state record holder for the high jump and as a freshman set new program records in both the indoor and outdoor high jump for the Gophers.

We at MileSplit Minnesota caught up with Jok ahead of her indoor track and field season to talk about her future, her past and to garner advice for our current high school athletes.

Each week of 2023 we at MileSplit Minnesota will release an Alumni Focus Q&A with a wide scope of recent graduates, state legends, and more. 


Discuss the transition from high school competition to competing at the college level. What adjustments have you had to make in order to be as successful as possible?

The transition from high school to collegiate training was very rough for me. The intense training I do now is nothing compared to what I did in high school and so I just had to learn how to adjust and avoid injury. I also never did Olympic lifting in high school so when I started doing it in college it was so overwhelming. Fall training and indoor season of my freshman year of college was hard because I had such high expectations for myself coming off an amazing senior year of high school. The heavy training definitely changed my strength and body for the better, but adjusting to it gave me worry of early peaking. I had to completely trust my coaches or I was never going to see the results I wanted to. 

Tell us about your training regimen by giving a general overview of what goes into getting prepared for your next big event.

Fall training is a lot of conditioning and lifting, though in season I jump twice a week and each day focuses on a different part of my approach. Lifting is also less intense and we do not max out in season. I would have always thought I would only do things on the mat for my event but it is not necessary for me to do full approach layouts at the highest bars much at all. I get speedwork on the track, work on my dynamics, and most importantly rest and recover during the season. 

What athletic-based goals do you hope to accomplish during this upcoming year?

This season I hope to be an athlete of consistency, something that I felt was not that present last year. I had an amazing year last year and I will not take that away from myself though I did have a few meets where I only jumped bars that were way below the goal. I would like to be in a healthy range this year where I do not see those lower bars again.

Do you have any advice that you can offer an incoming freshman on how to best deal with the higher level of competition they'll encounter at the college level? Also, what tips can you provide regarding the balance between training commitments and academic demands?

My biggest advice for incoming freshmen is that college is a huge transition in life with moving away from your family and getting used to your independence, and so it is important to realize it is going to be even harder as an athlete. All these changes are overwhelming and often made me feel as though I was not cut out for this but everything that you have worked for will always pay off. Always practice healthy habits of balance, take care of your body and always go to class and do your work. Use the resources you are given because it is so easy to feel behind. Most importantly take care of your mental health and reach out when you have doubts, it always feels as though no one in the world understands your struggles but so many people can relate trust me

In your first year as a Gopher you set the program records both indoors and outdoors for the high jump, how does it feel to have that success as a freshman?

My freshman year was absolutely amazing and I was definitely able to check off some huge accomplishments and I am so grateful for those opportunities. I always had high expectations for myself though looking back to my first fall as a gopher to now it is amazing the progress I have been able to make in such a short amount of time. 

Related: Nyalaam Jumps to New Heights as a Gopher

With the records being yours already, what kind of goals do you have for your future as a Gopher?

My future goals as a gopher are definitely to be a B10 champion as well as first team all american at nationals, these would be huge accomplishments for me to check off both indoor and outdoors

What have been the highlights of your college career to this point?

My highlights of my college career are definitely my school records and getting the opportunity to qualify and compete at the USA championships this past summer. I will never forget any of those moments I got to share alongside my amazing coach. She has always supported me no matter how my meet days end, so it is nice celebrating when hard work pays off. 

Looking back to high school, what are some valuable lessons you learned there that made you into the person you are today?

My sophomore year of high school I actually quit track and decided it was too much as I had a lot going on with my family and my own mental health. A lot of people saw it as quitting though I was doing it to protect my own self. I knew I loved track and I wasn't doing so great that season because of things out of my control and it made me really sad to not enjoy something I used to live for. I decided to walk away because if track was really something that was meant for me then I know it was not going to be the end, and I was right because I came back senior year and did great things and opened up opportunities for college. So my lesson was not to let others persuade the decisions that only affected me. I chose happiness and it paid off and all worked out in the end

What high school accomplishment were you most proud of?

My biggest accomplishment of high school was definitely my senior year. I committed to a D1 college in a city like I always wanted to, I got the state record in my favorite event (high jump) and I graduated which is a big accomplishment in my family. I was truly blessed to finish my high school career on such a high and I am forever grateful.

Outside of track and field, what are you up to?

Besides track, I am doing lots of school stuff. I am an official double major, one in youth studies and the other in family social science. I also enjoy exploring the city with my friends and I get to spend a lot of time with my teammates.