This Rose flowers as a Cardinal
Rose Jackson, a sophomore at the high school, is one of eight Cardinals to qualify for the Class AA Track and Field Meet starting Friday.
She will compete in four events: long jump, 100 and 200 dashes and 4x200 relay.
In his 31 seasons as an assistant coach, Bob Bezdicek can't recall a Willmar athlete ever filling out their state track dance card to the max.
Jackson is a medal contender in her three individual events. In the 100, just one time is better.
"I'm just trying to do my best," she told me this week. "You're in the state. If it doesn't go well, I'll just take it with a smile."
Her head coach, Jerry Popp, has a smile, too, despite a cold, wet spring that wiped out the Optimists Meet and several others.
Rose, now 16, moved here in the fall from Detroit Lakes. She'd attended school there since third grade.
"We knew she would help us," said Popp. "But she'd only gone to state in one event, a relay. So, we couldn't be sure how much. I attribute a lot (of her progress) to swimming. It kept her in shape. She had 2½ months of conditioning and it kept her in a competitive environment."
Rose said she had been in a swim club in elementary school, but hadn't competed for the Lakers' school team.
"She was pretty raw," said swimming and diving coach Carl Shuldes, also a track assistant coach.
She recalls needing 33 seconds to swim the 50 freestyle in early September, but by late October was in the low 27s and high 26s, which made her one of the fastest Cardinal sprinters.
The swim team also gave her an in to build friendships in her new setting.
"I didn't know anyone. It was hard at first," she said. "But everyone is so nice here."
Rose, who was born in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., moved here when her mother Linda got the job managing the dental clinic at Rice Memorial Hospital. She has a half-brother, Eddie Taylor, who attends the University of Colorado.
Bezdicek has worked with her in the long jump while Shuldes coaches the sprinters.
"I think I've added a foot to my long jump and taken a second off my best 200 time," she said.
Times posted at the 2AA meet at St. Peter were each her all-time best: 17-7¾ in the long jump, 25.46 in the 200 and 12.35 in the 100 dash.
On the 4x200 relay, she will run with seniors Brittney Anderson and Sam Bierbaum and eighth-grader Shelby-Lyn Schneider, who will also run in the 400. Mariah Hutton and Rachel Croonquist are alternates.
The boys 4x200 has seniors Drue Backhaus, Eugene Stepan and Jeremy Schendel and junior Chris Oden. Seniors Brandon Schow and James Liamatti are alternates.
Willmar's Jackson is not alone among area athletes qualifying in four events. Alanna Dietz, a senior at New London-Spicer, is in both hurdle events, triple jump and the 4x400 relay. Her teammate on the Wildcats, Brandon Zylstra, is going in all three jumping events on the boys side.
Smith is Huskies top pick since 1983
Jordan Smith's selection in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft is the highest draft pick out of St. Cloud State since Dana Kiecker of Fairfax. The former Boston Red Sox pitcher was drafted in the eighth round in 1983.
In two seasons at SCSU, Smith batted .420 accumulating 117 runs, 174 hits, 45 doubles, 7 triples, 22 homers and 135 RBIs.
Other SCSU picks include former minor league and local amateur pitcher David Oehrlein by St. Louis in 1992 in the 35th round and Jim Eisenreich by the Twins in the 16th round in 1980.
Cleveland nabbed Smith on the 278th of what will be at least 1,500 selections.
If draftees choose not to sign by the Aug. 15 deadline they can be re-drafted next year.
But look for the former Cardinal to sign a minor-league contract soon and be assigned to a Class A team in the Cleveland farm system.
On the fly
Former Cardinal teammates Mary Sussenguth and Kelsey Hanson will both be coaching high school volleyball this fall. Sussenguth will be at Martin County West and Hanson at Finley-Sharon, N.D.
The Cardinals softball team earned the MSHSL Academic All-State Golf Award with a cumulative GPA of 3.95. Four players were All-State (minimum 3.75 GPA): Alex Linbo, Valor Gorans, Megan Rudie and Haylee Hastad.