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Pennington flies over hurdles

Luke Pennington grew into a rare situation.

While it’s not uncommon, it is a unique trait to excel at both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. In most cases a hurdler is better at one or the other.

That’s not true for the Little Falls Flyers junior

“The 110 hurdlers tend to have really good short sprint speed, where the good 300 hurdlers tend to be taller with a slender build,” said Flyers head coach Jeff Massmann. “300 hurdlers tend to be more like the quarter-milers with a little more endurance. Luke has a good combination of both.

“Last year, if you asked me which he was better at I would’ve said the 300. This year it’s a toss-up.”

Pennington helped the Flyers to third place in the Section 8-2A True Team meet May 10. He won the 110 in 15.80 and the 300 in 41.30.

Two days later at the Melrose Invite, which Little Falls won, Pennington swept the hurdles at 15.96 (110) and 42.59 (300).

“I’ve always loved running a lot,” said Pennington, who moved into the Little Falls school district last year. “I try to put it into perspective with everyday life. Whenever I do something, I like to do it well. I’m very competitive. I make sure I do my best all the time and by winning, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

What’s Pennington’s explanation for why he’s successful at both hurdle events?

“I’m not too tall and not too short,” he said. “I’m average height and build. I’m flexible enough to get over the high hurdles for the 110s and the 300 hurdles are right at my height. I’m slightly better at the lower hurdles, but both work out well.”

It was the 300 hurdles that worked best for Pennington last year. He qualified for the Class 2A state meet where he finished 15th with a 41.42. 

His goals this season are to return to the state meet. He’d also like to break 15 seconds in the 110s and 40 seconds in the 300.

“I was a lot more confident coming into this season,” said Pennington. “State was a wake-up to how many more people are better than me. Coming into this year I made sure I worked out during the summer and ran more. This upcoming summer I’m going to do even more so I can be even more prepared for next year.”

Massmann said Pennington is fearless with a determination unmatched by few athletes he’s coached in the past.

“He will contact me the first day of school in the fall concerning track,” Massmann added. “I’ve never had a kid as excited for track year round as him. He is the most dedicated track athlete I have ever had. He loves the sport.”

Other notable performances:

Baseball: Jordan Hunstad, Pillager, finished 3-4 with a home run against Isle.

Cole Hunstad, Pillager, finished 3-4 and was the winning pitcher against Isle.

Cory Tumberg, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished 6-8 with two doubles and two runs in two games against Staples-Motley.

Alex Jansson, Staples-Motley, finished 3-4 with a double, home run and four runs scored in one game against Wadena-Deer Creek. He went 4-5 with two doubles, a home run, three runs and two RBIs against Northland.

Nathan Holm, Pine River-Backus, finished 3-3 with a double, three runs and an RBI against Red Lake.

Jordan Chouanard, Aitkin, finished 4-5 with a run and two RBIs against Hinckley-Finlayson.

Golf: Zach Israelson, Staples-Motley, shot 74 for medalist honors at Bemidji Invite.

Kyle Thompson, Aitkin, shot 42 for medalist honors in a Great River Conference dual with Moose Lake-Willow River.

Nick Forsberg, Staples-Motley, shot 73 for medalist honors at the Ranger/Patriot Invite.

Alex Holbrook, Pillager, shot 83 for medalist honors at the Browerville Quad County meet.

Tennis: Antoine Mourmal, Austin Hirschey, Staples-Motley, finished the week 6-0 and captured Mid-State Conference titles.

Track and field: Shane White, Pillager, won the 110- and 300-meter hurdles during the Section 7-1A True Team meet. 

Bryan Zenke, Aitkin, won the 100 and 200 dashes and the long jump at the Aitkin Invite.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at or 855-5856.