There has been no shortage of pressure-packed jumps. Or of historic ones, either.
But despite already winning a state championship a year ago, and setting the all-time state record earlier this spring, there hadn’t been any jumps quite like this for Blaine junior Madison Schmidt: going against a rival senior jumping their personal best. A winner-take-all fourth attempt to tie the all-time state meet mark. One more successful clear the only thing in the way of a repeat state title.
Separating themselves from the field by a half foot, Schmidt and Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior Madison Johnson squared off in an epic showdown during the Class AA State Track and Field Championships girls high jump at Hamline University June 7, with Schmidt capturing a repeat title at 5 feet, 10 inches.
“Going into the state competition I knew that there were going to be a lot of talented girls competing and that I shouldn’t underestimate anyone there,” Schmidt said. “Madison Johnson challenged me last year as well and I knew that she would be one of the girls pushing toward higher heights.”
Those heights would come down to the elite pair quickly, as last year’s top two finishers once again were the final standing in short order.
Four of the 16 state entrants went out with a height of 5-0, then another five were eliminated after clearing 5-2.
With the field pared down to seven, the other five competitors reached 5-4, but couldn’t go any higher. That left the rest of the competition down to just Schmidt and Johnson, who were just getting warmed up.
“The feeling going into state this year was similar to last year in that I was confident in my abilities and knew that I was in a position to succeed,” Schmidt said. “My goal was a new PR, but I knew that my priorities lay first in winning the meet. This year even more than last year I knew that I had it in me to win the meet and that it was just a matter of being consistent in the way I jumped.”
Schmidt, who passed on earlier heights before clearing 5-4, made it past 5-6 on her first try, as did Johnson, who had successfully cleared 5-0, 5-2, 5-4 and 5-5 to open the day.
Johnson cleared 5-7 on her first attempt while Schmidt passed, then both made it above 5-8 without a blemish. Both had cleared 5-8 in the state finals a year ago, with Schmidt winning by virtue of fewest previous misses. Height for height, jump for jump, another classic clash was on.
“I thought Madison was doing everything she needed to do,” Blaine girls high jump coach Chris Brustuen said. “Her steps were consistent in hitting her marks, her speed was good and she has a great knack of controlling her body and finishing over the bar, which I thought she was also doing well too.”
Johnson finally missed first at 5-9, but Schmidt was unable to make her opening attempt at the height either. After both made their second jumps, the dual remained deadlocked.
Near misses marked the 5-10 level, as neither competitor could reach the height in their three attempts. That prompted a jump off fourth attempt, with the state championship hanging in the balance. If both missed, the bar would be lowered an inch until one made and the other missed. No margin for error.
“The jump off was definitely something new for me, but I am very glad I got to experience it,” Schmidt said. “I knew that I just had to let myself jump naturally, clear my mind and get vertical.”
In her first jump off attempt, Schmidt did just that. Following a Johnson miss, Schmidt put together her best jump of the day to close the dramatic competition and clinch a repeat championship.
“Madison is a competitor,” Brustuen said. “She always has a great mindset and does not get frustrated. We had talked about going in steps. Get your first height, get the win and then worry about how high the bar goes. In the jump off she knew she had to make that height to win and I feel she proceeded to jump the baseball equivalent of a home run. It was her best jump of the day exactly when she needed it.
“I was so happy for her when she hit the mat after successfully defending her title. Madison Johnson of BSM was a senior and she came out and had an amazing day as well. She hit her personal record at state and came in a very close second place. As a coach, to see these athletes compete at such a high level and treat each other with such class and to see the comradery is what it should be about. The level of competition continues to rise in girls high jump and it is fun to see. Next year Madison will be a senior at Blaine and looking for a three-peat! I am very excited for her to see what she can still do next year.”
Earlier this spring, Schmidt became the first girl in Minnesota history to clear the 6 foot milestone. Now, she has another piece of history, matching the 5-10 state meet record set by Linda Barsness of Rochester John Marshall in 1986. All with one season still to go.
“I was incredibly grateful to repeat as a state champion and I know that it wouldn’t have happened without all of the support I have received from my family, coaches and teammates, and all of the gifts God has blessed me with,” Schmidt said. “As a repeat state champion and as the first high school girl from Minnesota to clear 6 feet, I feel that I have a responsibility to continue to push the limits of my abilities and set the bar higher to challenge future generations of jumpers.”