Minnewaska’s Peyton Johnsrud had been here before. Down to the last two high jumpers at a state meet.
The previous time came in 2019 when he cleared 6-feet, 7-inches before Yahya Madar from Mounds Park Academy tied a state-record with a leap of 6-feet, 10-inches to win the title.
Johnsrud was proud of a second-place finish as a sophomore that year, but he wanted a championship when faced with a similar situation in the high jump on Friday at St. Michael-Albertville High School. Johnrud got that title after clearing 6-feet, 7-inches again. Josh Creer-Oberstar of Rock Ridge took second.
“It obviously means a lot, especially after losing the last year (due to the pandemic),” Johnsrud said. “That was kind of tough on all of us. I just wanted to go out there and compete this year and make sure I could still jump high. I was just happy to be able to do that.”
Both Johnsrud and Creer-Oberstar cleared 6-feet, 7-inches, but Johnsrud did it on his first try before Creer-Oberstar did it on his third. That proved to be the difference when both athletes barely missed advancing past the 6-foot, 8-inch height.
“It’s a relief,” Johnsrud said of taking the advantage by clearing 6-7 on his first jump. “After I cleared it I thought, ‘He’s probably going to have to get his next two to beat me.’” That takes a bunch of pressure off me.”
Johnsrud has cleared 6-8 and 6-9 before, and he looked comfortable going into that final height. Clearing the 6-6 jump came on his first try too.
“I was pretty confident. I just wanted to get up and clear it without any misses,” Johnsrud said. “My legs got kind of tired there at the end.”
Johnsrud jumped first in the finals, meaning Creer-Oberstar had the last opportunity to try to secure the win if he could hit his last jump. He cleared the bar with his back, but couldn’t quite get the height on his lower body as the bar fell.
Johnsrud and Creer-Oberstar chatted throughout the day as they separated themselves from the rest of the 16-person field. The two shared a smile and a hug after the final jump.
“It’s really fun having that competition,” Johnsrud said. “You feel like when you’re jumping with someone like that, it elevates you up another level.”
It was a special season for the Johnsrud family as Peyton’s brother, fellow senior Connor, also qualified for state as one of the top triple jumpers in Minnesota. Connor came into the meet with the fourth longest seed mark at 42-10. He had to work through fouls on his first two jump attempts in St. Michael. His long jump ended up at 41-11.25, leaving him in eighth place.
Track and field runs deep in the Johnsrud family. Jennifer Johnsrud, the head coach for the Minnewaska girls program, was on the sidelines for both of her sons on Friday.
On the rare occasions Peyton did miss on a jump attempt, he ran to his mom to look over the video Jennifer had just taken with her tablet.
“My mom has been a track coach for I don’t even know how long,” Peyton said. “My oldest brother joined track when he was in high school. Jackson was in track in seventh through 12 grade. He went to state in high jump. I was always competing with him.”
Peyton does not show a lot of emotion within the competition, but he cracked a smile as he gave his mom a hug after finishing his career off with a championship.
“Just thankful to be a Laker,” he said.
4x800 relay team finishes 16th
The Lakers’ 4x800-meter relay team also competed on Friday as Noah Danielson, Connor Nestor, Ike Koenig and Maeson Tank finished 16th among the two heats at state.
They came across in a time of 8:47.14. That bested their seed time of 8:47.49.
The team from Park Rapids Area won the 4x800 state title with a time of 8:12.86.
Schill finishes 11th for WCA
West Central Area senior Kyle Schill finished his career with an 11th-place finish at state in the 800-meter run.
Schill finished in 2:01.55. Jacob McCleary of Perham won the 800-meter title with a time of 1:56.92, while Cameron Stocke of Rock Ridge was second in 1:57.96, and Emmett Gerres of Belle Plaine was third in 1:58.25.