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WARRIORS ATHLETE OF WEEK: Parsons hopes early jumps no fluke

All Nate Parsons has to do is be consistent.

That’s the challenge the Brainerd Warriors’ triple jumper confronts after winning the season’s first two indoor meets and finishing a few inches shy of what it would take to automatically qualify for the state meet.

“It will be pretty disappointing if I just jump big in the first meet and taper off,” Parsons said. “But I think this shows me I will probably be around there for the majority of the season.

“If I didn’t say it’s surprising I would be lying. It’s definitely a pleasant surprise, but I cant say it’s a shock. I put in a lot of work this winter, and it’s nice to see it manifest itself in this.”

In the season-opening Huskie High School Classic March 26 at St. Cloud State University, Parsons won by jumping 43-10. The state qualifying standard is 44-7, which a competitor must jump in the section meet to automatically advance to state.

“My first jump was 43-8,” Parsons said. “It was pretty surprising. That’s my best by 2.5 feet compared to last year. To come into the first meet and do that was a pleasant surprise.

“Then I went 43-6, and I finished with a 43-10, which put me third, overall, as far as Brainerd history.”

He trails only Troy Lindner, who triple jumped a school-record 45-8.25 in 1995 and was a state runner-up, and Mike Carlson, who jumped 44-0 in 1995, on the Warrior Honor Roll.

Last weekend, Parsons won the Central Lakes Conference Indoor title, also at SCSU, with a jump of 43-4. 

“I only had one jump because I injured my heel,” he said. “Just the fact I went 43 again tells me it wasn’t like anything was a fluke. Hopefully, I will be consistently jumping that the whole season.”

Warriors head coach Rod Reuer doesn’t believe Parsons’ jumps are a fluke.

“He’s done it in four consecutive jumps in a row,” he said. “Sometimes someone gets one out there the first jump of the season and they don’t ever come close again. To have four jumps in two different weeks, within six inches of each other, is pretty consistent in triple jump.”

Kris Smith, who coaches Warriors jumpers, believes strength is the No. 1 reason Parsons has excelled early.

“He worked in the weight room all winter,” she said. “He’s so strong. Last year he missed going to state by a few inches. I think that really motivated him, to see how close he was.

“Triple jump is such a technical event. Every triple jumper fine-tunes something in every meet. He’s been a student of the event. He’s been consistent. He didn’t just jump 43 and not do it again, he’s had four of them.”

Reuer said Parsons has honed his craft under the guidance of one of the best coaches.

“I’ve got to give credit to Kris,” he said. “Nate’s learned from an experienced jump coach who’s had some very good jumpers in my tenure here. His success is due to he’s got a very good jump coach.”

Parsons, a senior, is grooming his successors.

“He’s a kid who came to track later, he started his sophomore year,” Reuer said. “He has grown to love the sport. He’s a great senior leader, the kids look up to him. He’s a great mentor because as a senior he’s overseeing the young guys coming up. Our next crop of triple jumpers might be freshmen. He’s trying to teach them the tricks of the trade.”

Parsons started at defensive back for the Warriors’ football team the last two seasons. During that span Brainerd went 19-5, won two section championships and a conference title and played in two Class 5A state semifinals at the Metrodome.

“Partway through (2009) I started playing a lot more,” Parsons said. “By the time the playoffs came around I was starting. That year really boosted my confidence, just getting so far. 

“This year, going undefeated (through 11 games), and making it as far as we did, really boosted my confidence, not just for football, but for track.”

Other notable efforts:

• Jackson Walters, track and field, won the high jump and set a school record in the 60-meter hurdles at the CLC indoor meet.