Track and field can be a humbling sport, St. Croix Lutheran coach Brent Schacht said.
In events often decided by tenths of seconds and fractions of inches, a clipped gate or bobbled baton can be the difference between winning and losing.
That’s what makes it hard for Schacht to explain the two-year run that St. Croix Lutheran junior Jon Tollefson is enjoying.
“Anything can happen in track and field,” Schacht said, “but what Jon’s done has been pretty amazing.”
A double state champion in hurdles as a sophomore, Tollefson has won all but one race this season. He is unbeaten against Class 2A runners.
He ran a personal-best 14.19 seconds — the best time in the state this spring — in the 110-meter hurdles at the Class 2A True Team state meet May 17. He also won the 300-meter hurdles that day.
“He’s the best hurdler we’ve ever had here, and probably the best I’ve seen as a sophomore or junior,” said Schacht, who has coached at St. Croix Lutheran since 1993.
A natural fit
Tollefson chalks up his success to genetics — long legs and a lanky, 6-3 frame — and God-given ability.
“Just sort of lucky, I guess,” he said.
Schacht remembers standing with team seniors two years ago, marveling at how easily Tollefson — then a freshman — took to the hurdles.
“Usually with hurdles, it takes a while to develop some form with it,” Schacht said, “but he just took to it naturally. You don’t see that often.”
Tollefson finished sixth at state in the 110 meters as a ninth-grader.
His talent is honed by practice focused on improving every day, Schacht said, something he also carries over into his schoolwork. Tollefson is a National Honor Society student and a peer tutor.
He’s not one to rest on his laurels, the coach said.
“I just try to think long-term about it,” said Tollefson, who wants to run Division I track in college. “Get better every day. ”
Humble and hungry
Tollefson is quick to deflect attention. After all, he said, his team consists of plenty of good athletes.
St. Croix Lutheran finished second in the Tri-Metro Conference and, after winning the Class 2A, Section 3 True Team title, finished sixth at state. Senior Joe Werz won the conference long jump title and senior Riley Hillstrom is one of the top triple jumpers in all of Class AA.
The school won three consecutive Class 1A True Team titles from 2007 through 2009, but hasn’t finished better than third since moving to Class 2A.
Nothing is guaranteed in track and field, Schacht said, no matter how easy Tollefson can make it look.
“You can enjoy the successes, but I tell the kids … track can sometimes be very humbling,” Schacht said. “Sometimes, you clip a couple hurdles, or you lose a little form.
“Jon has that mentality: Stay hungry, stay humble, work hard and don’t take things for granted. And then good things will happen.”