BISMARCK — West Fargo senior Laiken Sturn triple-jumped her way to a state title in an event she didn’t start doing until halfway through this season.
Sturn leaped 38 feet, 9 1/2 inches to capture the Class A girls triple jump state title Friday at MDU Resources Community Bowl in Bismarck. It was her fourth-ever time competing in the event.
The mark, which was 1 foot, 6 1/2 inches ahead of second-place Bismarck Century’s Hope Stein, set a new personal best for Sturn.
“I feel great,” Sturn said. “Honestly, I don't think I could have done without my coaches.”
Sturn wasn’t expecting to land atop the podium. She jumped around 34 feet her first meet, recorded a leap of 37 feet, 7 3/4 inches at her second and in the 35s last week.
“I thought, I don’t really have enough experience to say I have a consistent spot, so I had no idea what to expect,” she said. “My coaches let me do it, and it ended up going well.”
Sturn got one jump in prelims Friday before she had to go run the 400-meter relay. She returned to the field event after running her portion in the sprint relay, which placed sixth, and recorded her best jump.
“I was actually really happy about the weather, because I thought I was going to be really cold all day,” Sturn said. “But I was able to warm up and get kind of sweaty, which actually helps me keep my muscles loose. I felt good going into it.”
Sturn overcame a discouraging start to the day in the 800 relay, in which the Packers placed seventh.
“People noticed I got passed in the 4x200,” Sturn said. “...I was really nervous all morning. I don’t usually get nervous about meets.”
Words of encouragement from her teammates, coaches and parents gave her the boost that lifted her a state title. A pep talk from Sturn’s dad helped shift her mindset.
“He’s usually pretty competitive,” Sturn said of her dad. “But he said as long as you give everything you have and you’re having fun out there, that’s really what matters. I kept that in the back of my mind for the whole rest of the day.”
Sturn had never long jumped before this year, either. The No. 3 seed, she’ll make a bid for another spot on the podium Saturday.
Jamestown's Ford adds to trophy case
Jamestown senior Meghan Ford found herself in unfamiliar territory Friday in the last lap of the Class A girls 1,600 race.
Ford coasted into victory lane to win her third 1,600 state title. But this race was different. The last two state tournament races ended in a sprint finish between Ford and 2019 Fargo Davies graduate Megan Lundstrom.
“I was kind of nervous that was going to happen again — somebody was going to come out of nowhere and challenge me in the last lap,” Ford said. “But I felt pretty confident going into the third lap that I pretty much had it, so that was nice not to worry.”
Ford crossed the finish line in the windy contest in 5 minutes, 2 seconds.
“It wasn’t my fastest time, but I didn’t really expect it to be considering the wind today,” she said. “It was pretty brutal out there.”
Ford, a Furman University commit, had a racing strategy heading into the event, but after looking at the forecast, “threw it out the window.”
“I was trying to go for time, but then I didn’t really know what to do at that point because I knew nobody was gonna let me tuck in behind them,” she said. “I knew I was going to have to run against the wind by myself.”
Ford, no stranger to topping the podium, is aiming for a state record Saturday in the 3,200-meter finals. She’s slated to compete in the 3,200 relay and run the 800, an event that’s not her specialty, but she’s looking forward to.
“I’m glad I got this one out of the way,” Ford said. “This is always the one I’m most nervous for. Tomorrow should be a bit more relaxed.”
Ford’s teammate, Anthonett Nabwe, won the girls discus state title with a toss of 143 feet, 9 inches.
The Blue Jays sit at No. 2 in team standings, two points behind Bismarck Century, after five events.
Bismarck's Korsmo breaks record
Bismarck High senior Sean Korsmo pointed to the sky after he crossed the finish line in the Class A boys 1,600 on Friday.
He broke a 34-year-old record by 0.60 seconds and captured first place with a run of 4:21.51.
After five events, Bismarck Century has a comfortable 51.5-point lead over Korsmo's Demons, who are sitting in second in team standings. The Patriots placed first in four of five events Friday for a score of 82.
West Fargo Sheyenne is third in team standings with 13 points, one point ahead of Jamestown.