Jumper Knebel aims highAndrew Knebel loves everything about track and field.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Andrew Knebel loves everything about track and field.
He obsesses about it, talks about it incessantly with his teammates and coaches. He even spends his free time watching professionals, trying to determine exactly how it is they do what they do.
“I am a track addict,” Knebel said. “High jump is my true passion. I want to have the perfect form.”
The 6-foot-7 sophomore from Pillager, Minn., is inching closer and closer to that goal. One leap at a time.
He jumped a season-best 6 feet, 9 inches on April 13 at the Sioux City (Iowa) Relays, a mark tied for fifth on this season’s NAIA performance list.
Knebel knows he can go higher though and will try and improve when DSU hosts the Blue Hawk Open at 1 p.m. Friday at the Badlands Activities Center.
He set his personal best of 7-2¾ in high school before a knee injury set him back.
“My form is still lacking quite a bit, just from the time off,” he said. “But I really like where I’m at right now, especially this early in the season.”
Knebel spent his freshman year competing for Dana College in Blair, Neb, but the school closed in July 2010, forcing Knebel to look elsewhere for his education and track and field competition.
He spent the 2010-11 school year at Minnesota Duluth, competing in meets unattached. He transferred to DSU last fall.
Knebel said the university almost perfectly suited his goal of pursuing a degree in agriculture — his parents farm corn and soybeans outside of Brainerd, Minn. — as well as competing at a high level of track and field.
The DSU men’s track and field team has been one of the NAIA’s top programs for more than a decade.
Knebel wasted no time making his presence felt, earning NAIA All-America honors by jumping 6-6 at the national indoor meet in March.
“He’s been a pleasant surprise and has been a great teammate,” DSU head coach Pete Stanton said. “He’s just really made us a better team because he’s such a well-rounded athlete.”
Stanton said Knebel has been more than willing to step into relay and hurdle events too.
For Knebel, it’s all part of learning everything he can about the sport.
“Andy is definitely a pretty unique guy,” said DSU sophomore Nathan Magstadt, a NAIA All-America hurdler. “He’s definitely very passionate about what he does. He’s always by the high jump mats telling them what they need to fix, what’s wrong with their form. He definitely is trying to master the art of high jump.”
Knebel said his next goal this season is to jump 6-11 and maybe even shoot for the 7-foot mark.
Given the right set of events, those heights could be good enough to win the NAIA national title.
“Knowing I have the ability to do it really gives me the drive to get that national championship,” Knebel said. “Next year, I’d be a liar to say I don’t want to win in(door) and outdoor championships in the high jump. That’s kind of the ultimate goal. I want to get back to being a 7-foot jumper.”