Unexpectedly amazingSix years ago, Jess Herauf never could have imagined she would end up being one of the best track and field athletes ever to come out of Dickinson High.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Six years ago, Jess Herauf never could have imagined she would end up being one of the best track and field athletes ever to come out of Dickinson High.
When she joined the sport as a seventh-grader, it was because her parents, T.J. and Carol Herauf, had convinced her it would be good for her.
“I didn’t expect anything out of it,” Herauf said. “Now it’s my life.”
Today, the senior enters the final track and field meet of her high school career, the Class A state meet, with the potential and goal of becoming a four-event champion.
“The ideal scenario would be to come home with four wins,” Herauf said. “I want to come home with four wins, obviously. But I know it’s going to be hard to get those.”
Herauf will compete in the javelin, long jump, 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She is the overwhelming favorite to win the javelin and ranks in the top three of the three other events.
The defending state champion and school-record holder in the javelin, Herauf hasn’t lost this season. Her season-best and school-record throw of 140 feet, 3 inches is nearly 15 feet longer than the next-best toss in Class A.
At the West Region meet, she had three preliminary throws and three throws in the finals. No other competitor bested even Herauf’s shortest throw.
Dickinson co-head coach Dave Michaelson is confident Herauf can repeat as the javelin champion.
“She’d have to have a down day and someone else would have to have a very good day to beat her,” he said.
As for the other three events? Those should prove a little more challenging.
At 15.34 seconds, Herauf has the top time in the 100 hurdles by two-tenths of a second.
However, her chase for the title in the 300 hurdles could turn out to be one of the most exciting races of the entire state meet.
Minot sophomore Morgan Milbrath edged Herauf at the finish line during the West Region meet last Saturday and, in doing so, secured the top-seed time of 44.98 seconds. Herauf is second 45.01 seconds.
“I’m looking out for Milbrath for sure,” Herauf said with a smile. “It’s going to be fun running against her and (Mandan freshman Chelsea) Peterson is right there. They’re all going to be hard races and really close races. I’ve just got to go out and give it my all.”
With a long jump of 17-11, Herauf is about six inches away from the top mark in Class A. But, at the state meet, she won’t have to run back and forth between that and the javelin like she did at regular-season meets.
The javelin finals are at 1 p.m. Saturday and will be followed by the long jump finals at 3 p.m.
Nevertheless, pushing herself to compete in two events simultaneously is part of what makes Herauf great in the eyes of her coaches and teammates.
Herauf also had state-qualifying times in the 200 meters and all four relay events, too, but can’t compete in them because of the state meet’s four-event limit. Last year, she finished fourth at state in the discus. She didn’t even do the event this year.
“She’s been blessed with some tremendous talent and just has a lot of athleticism that’s a gift of nature,” Michaelson said.
Don’t forget about her work ethic either.
At Dickinson’s second-to-last practice of the season, co-head coach Jay Schobinger gathered the team inside the school’s gymnasium for a meeting. The kids sat on the floor and listened to Schobinger tell them what to expect out of the weekend.
As soon as his spiel was over, Herauf was the first person up and on her feet.
“Her being like that motivates all of us to work harder,” Dickinson senior Ally Hoffman said. “We all want to keep up and not fall behind. We all work harder because she does.
“She doesn’t need someone to get after her and tell her to work hard. She just does.”
Herauf plans to compete in the heptathlon and javelin at the University of Minnesota next year.
Early in her athletic career — up until her junior year, really — Herauf always thought that volleyball or basketball would be her ticket to collegiate athletics.
“When I joined track it was because I wanted to get in shape for my other sports,” she said. “I didn’t think it would take me anywhere. I thought I’d be kind of average.”