Area Female Athlete: S-M's Klefsaas soaring to new heights
Millie Klefsaas Year: Sophomore School: Staples-Motley Sport: Track and field Events: Hurdles, pole vault Highlights: Won three events at W-DC and two at Staples Millie Klefsaas has a unique view on things. The Staples-Motley track and field vete...
Sport: Track and field
Events: Hurdles, pole vault
Highlights: Won three events at W-DC and two at Staples
Millie Klefsaas has a unique view on things.
The Staples-Motley track and field veteran doesn't enjoy running the 300-meter hurdles, but she's pretty good at it.
Klefsaas clocked a first-place 51.06 at the Wadena-Deer Creek Invite April 28.
"I just tell myself to keep running fast or you're going to clip a hurdle and fall so just keep your speed up," said Klefsaas. "Or I like to figure out how far I am until I'm done. I'll count down. That's one hurdle - seven more to go."
Klefsaas admits she's better suited for the 100 hurdles, which she also won at Wadena with a 15.17. She ran a first-place 16.62 during the Cardinal Invite April 24.
The sophomore said she learned a lot by watching state champion and former teammate Jaelin Beachy, who is now competing at North Dakota State University.
"She was kind of in the shadows last year with Jaelin in the hurdles," said S-M head coach Marly Simmons. "She really was good at hurdles last year for us and now she has more opportunities to shine. She's really taken advantage of that. She's had some good meets these past few weeks and has been able to figure things out."
Klefsaas said the biggest thing she learned from Beachy was to never stop improving. She admired her former teammate's work ethic and dedication to get better despite being a state champion.
"Her drive and determination is what I try and copy today," Klefsaas said. "I also try and take what my coaches tell me and really work with that and learn how to be a better hurdler. I'm constantly trying to get faster and faster."
She said she is working on barely clearing the hurdles instead of "floating" over them. She's also working on her trail leg. Her goal is to make it to state in the hurdles. She also wants to make sure her 100 time stays below 15.5.
As for her 300 hurdles - well - it's a similar mentality to her fourth event. Simmons said it's kind of wild card where Klefsaas will be. Much depends on where the team needs her the most. One spot might be the 4x400 relay.
"Honestly, I don't love the 4x4," Klefsaas said. "I think it would be fun if we could get a good team together and I would love to do that for my teammates. I don't know if I have a preference for a fourth event. I'll just concentrate on the hurdles and the pole vault."
Pole vault is where Klefsaas has made a name for herself. She picked up her first pole in eighth grade under the guidance of former S-M head coach Ron Beachy.
"How I got started was the third day of track practice I told my coach that I was in gymnastics. He immediately said I have to pole vault," Klefsaas said. "Mr. Beachy really got me started on drills that showed me exactly what I had to do in order to pole vault. He has guided me every step of the way. He's a big part of my success."
Klefsaas has advanced to the last two Class 1A state meets in pole vault. Last season she tied for 11th with a 9-foot effort. She qualified with a 10-2 mark. As an eighth-grader she finished sixth by clearing 10-0.
"Her gymnastics has a lot do with her success," said Simmons. "Gymnastics promotes excellent upper arm and core strength. That's a big part of being a good pole vaulter. Speed comes into that and she has plenty of that.
"Another thing, and you can't teach it, but in order to be a good pole vaulter, you have to have reckless abandon. You can't be afraid to try some different things."
Whether it's with a pole in her hands or on a balance beam or uneven parallel bars, Klefsaas has never shied from trying something.
"I would say I'm pretty fearless," Klefsaas said. "When people ask me, "Aren't you afraid the pole is going to break,' I just tell them I don't really think about it. I mostly think about how to make this height. I don't go into it thinking I'm going to fall.
"When you make it, it's really fun. It's a really good feeling when you make a height and your teammates are there cheering you on."
Other notable performances:
Softball: Claire Browning, Aitkin, finished 3-4 with three RBIs against Braham.
Ashley Hanson, Pillager, went 3-4 with a double and two RBIs against Upsala.
Kaitlyn Johnson, Crosby-Ironton, went 3-3 with two home runs and four RBIs against Northland.
Track and field: Sarah Koopmann, Staples-Motley, won two events during the Staples-Motley Invite.