Male Area Athlete of the Week: Grant shines at section Nordic ski meet

Grant, Jackson.jpg
Jackson Grant.

Jackson Grant knows what it takes.

The junior proved it in the Section 8 Nordic ski meet with his third-place 26:19 that led the Little Falls Flyers boys team to state.

Little Falls needed every second, too. The Flyers and Bemidji tied for second with 363 team points. With the top two teams making that state meet, the tiebreaker came down to the combined times of the top four skiers from each team. Little Falls edged Bemidji by four seconds.

“During the race, I came through the skate race pretty comfortable with my position,” Grant said. “In the classic race, I knew all I really had to do was keep my place because the other people were so far behind.”

At the start of the classic race, Grant did get passed. He never panicked because he knew he could hold the rest off.


“He passed me earlier than I was expecting,” Grant said. “I knew I had to stay on him and stay as close to him as I could and I realized he was on the right track and I knew the corner, so I got in the left lane and it ended up working out.”

Little Falls head coach Mattia Hendrickson credits his good performance in the sections to how smart of a racer he is.

“He has had a lot of experience now the last couple of years being in the top part of the race, which has helped with his ability to race well and compete well in high-pressure situations,” Hendrickson said. “Last year, at the section race, he had a phenomenal race and this year he did as well. He’s learned how to compete when it’s time to compete and get it done.”

Grant thinks he is better at the skate race, but likes the classic better because it’s a stronger, faster race.

In-between races Grant wasn’t worried about where he stood in the individual standings. He was worried about the team.

“I knew we had a shot,” Grant said of Little Falls boys making it to state. “But I wasn’t entirely sure how we would do in the end.”

When they realized they advanced to start, the celebration began.

“Everyone started screaming and yelling and hugging each other,” Hendrickson said. “It was really cool to see because we were really building up to that moment.”


For Grant, it was a relief to know the whole team made it to state.

“It feels really good that I can be good at something and have people look up to me,” Grant said. “For me individually, I like to see where I am at with all the competition in the state. For the team, it means more because it shows how good we are and how hard we are willing to work.”

Grant started skiing in sixth-grade. At first, skiing was just a fun extra-activity to do. It later turned into his passion.

“I just signed up for it not knowing anything about it,” Grant said. “I just was naturally good at it and sprouted from there.”

He worked hard to be prepared to make state now for the second year in the row. His goal is to make in the top 25 to earn all-state honors.

“Jackson is a very dedicated skier,” Hendrickson said. “He works on his technique and his endurance all year long. He has really grown as a leader this year and matured. It’s been cool to watch him change in that way as well.

“It's a really good thing for the other skiers to see how well he is doing and to know he is putting in the hard work. And to know that’s what they need to do to have success and having Jackson there as a role model is very helpful.”


Other notable performances:
Basketball: Spencer Schaeffer, Pillager, scored 35 points against Aitkin and 21 points against New York Mills.
Brady Raph, Pine River-Backus, scored 22 points against Laporte, 24 points against Browerville and 19 points against Red Lake.
Louis Bueckers, Pine River-Backus, scored 30 points against Browerville and 17 points against Red Lake.
Peter Schommer, Pierz, scored 19 points against Pillager and 25 points against St. Cloud Cathedral.
Bode Magnuson, Pequot Lakes, scored 20 points against Esko.
Mannie Ukutegbe, Aitkin, scored 20 points against International Falls.
Kade Hopperstad, Aitkin, scored 31 points against Virginia.
Hockey: Shane Donovan, Northern Lakes, scored a hat trick in a win over Proctor
Dane Couture, Little Falls, notched a shutout win over Sauk Rapids.
Lleyten Pettit, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored two goals in a win over Red Lake Falls.
Wrestling: Connor Tulenchik, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew, finished his regular season 40-3 with a win against United North Central.
Owen Bjerga, Staples-Motley, improved his record to 34-1 with two falls and a major decision at the Albany Invite.

Jackson Grant

Year: Junior

School: Little Falls

Sport: Nordic skiing

Highlights: Placed third in the Section 8 meet to lead the Little Falls’ boys to state.

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