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Perham's Hokanson, LaFond win state track titles

Perham's Martin LaFond competes in the long jump at the Minnesota Class 1A state track and field meet at Hamline University on Saturday. LaFond finished first in the event. Joe Brown / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL -- Perham junior Ashley Hokanson continues to rewrite the school record book. In just her second year of competing in the pole vault she added the state’s top prize to her trophy case. Hokanson cleared 11 feet, 7 inches to capture the Class 1A championship.

“I didn’t think I would ever win,” Hokanson said. “I just go out there and try to do my best. Winning is a treat.”

Hokanson may have been one of the few competitors happy that the event was moved inside because she is not a fan of the rain.

“Even if it was going to shower a little bit, I was happy to have it indoors, even though I love vaulting outdoors,” Hokanson said. “I have done a couple of indoor meets, so it wasn’t a bad transition. I liked it because there was no wind to worry about.”

Hokanson had a pair of misses early, at 10-6 and 11 feet. She was able to clear them on her second try and nailed 11-3 in her first try to win the championship. She continued on and hit 11-7 in her first attempt. She was unable to clear the bar at 11-9, which would have qualified her for nationals. Concordia-Academy’s Rachel TerHaar came in second at 11 feet.

“I never thought this would have happened. It’s amazing,” Hokanson said. “I love pole vaulting. I started at a camp and I loved it ever since.”

Another key that helped ease the nerves for Hokanson was having a pair of teammates competing alongside her. Sydney Bahls finished fourth at 10-6 and Shalie Lipp finished at 10 feet for 10th place.

“It went by really fast especially with my two teammates, Sydney (Bahls) and Shalie (Lipp),” Hokanson said. “It helped to have them and you feel more comfortable with your teammates there.”

LaFond leaps to first place

Perham senior Martin LaFond was not happy with how his triple jump went. He was plenty happy with his performance in the long jump, capturing the Class 1A title with a leap of 22 feet, 3 ¾ inches.

“From last night to this morning, I had one thing on my mind,” LaFond said. “(Which was) to go out there and win state.”

LaFond said his finish in the triple jump gave him more grit for Saturday’s championships. His goal was to get a big jump right away and beat everyone else. He was he hoping for 22 and was able to get that with his winning jump.

Pipestone Area’s Tyl Woelber came in second with a jump of 21-7 ¼.

“It means a lot to me,” LaFond said. “It was a goal of mine since freshman year and it feels really good.”