The state track record book is a document that lists 36 events – 18 for girls, 18 for boys – and the all-time bests cover a span of 39 years. The oldest record is in the boys high jump, where Rochester John Marshall’s Rod Raver cleared 7 feet, 1 inch way back in 1973 (Chaska’s Jon Markuson tied that record in 1993).
Raver’s mark is the only current record that was set in the 1970s. Six marks were set in the 1980s, including the oldest on the girls side: Blooming Prairie’s Jeanne Kruckeberg set the 800-meter record of 2:08.24 in 1984. Two records were set in the 1990s and 28 have been established since 2000.
Now imagine all those outstanding athletes, spanning all those years, and ponder the odds of two state record holders competing at the same place at the same time. It happened at last year’s state meet and it happened Tuesday. That’s because the two newest records were set in 2010 and 2011, and the holders of those records won’t finish their high school careers until 2013.
Jessica January of Richfield and Maggie Ewen of St. Francis, who have barely reached the halfway point of their high school years, competed at Tuesday’s Heidi Kunz Invitational at Mahtomedi. The two juniors won their events, which is no surprise to anyone.
January set the state record in the 100-meter hurdles when she was a freshman, and one of her goals is to break her record of 14.33 seconds. Ewen set a new state mark of 166 feet, 8 inches in the discus last season. January easily won the hurdles Tuesday with a time of 15.38 and Ewen threw the discus 159-5 while also winning the shot put.
Ewen (right) won the Class 2A discus state championship as a freshman and won both the discus and shot put as a sophomore. January also holds three state title titles, winning the 100 and 300 hurdles as a freshman and the 100 hurdles as a sophomore.
Their goals are similar: Beat their own records.
“Definitely,” January said. “I’ve just got to keep working at it.”
Ewen said, “My goals are just to throw an inch farther than my best.”
Faster, farther. That sums up January and Ewen. One runs and jumps and the other spins and throws. They told me Tuesday that they have never met, but it was clear that they have great respect for each other. Both of them wore souvenir state tourney pullovers at Mahtomedi; January wore a grey basketball pullover and Ewen was in a black pullover from state track.
January is also a talented basketball player and plans to play that sport in college. In fact, she is splitting her spring sports time between track and AAU basketball; after running the 100 hurdles and the 4x200 relay Tuesday, she left the track meet for basketball practice.
She plans to concentrate on the 100 hurdles this spring while possibly also running the 300 hurdles. She has ranked among the state's best in the long jump but said she isn’t competing in any jumping events this year.
January (left) competed at state as a seventh-grader and was a state runner-up in the 100 hurdles as an eighth-grader. Ewen’s first trip to state came when she was in eighth grade; she placed third in the discus. Now in their fourth year as varsity track athletes, the duo knows how important all that experience is.
“I think it helps a lot,” January said. “I don’t think it would be the difference between winning and losing, but definitely the nerves and just being comfortable with the environment, it helps you stay relaxed.”
Tuesday’s meet was a bit on the chilly side, but Ewen said she prefers competing when the weather is colder rather than warmer.
“I really like the cold,” she said, smiling. “I’m not sure why, but I like it more when it’s colder instead of hot.”
Ewen has the state’s best performances this spring in her two events, with season-bests of 162-1 in the discus and 48-6 in the shot put (the state record in that event is 52-4 ¾, set by Lakeville’s Liz Podominick in 2003).
January’s 15.38 in the 100 hurdles Tuesday was her best so far this season. Farmington junior Nadia Lorencz has the fastest reported time in the state in 2012, running a 15.21.
January is starting to think about college, listing Stanford, DePaul and Miami as her top three choices. Ewen has not yet settled on a list of possible colleges.
When I told Ewen that January would play basketball in college, Maggie said, “That’s a lot of track talent.”
She was talking about Jessica, but that statement stands for herself as well.
--To see a photo gallery of Ewen and January, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 501
*Miles John has driven: 7,130
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