SIOUX CITY | Four years in a row she was an Iowa state high school champion in the high jump, the first year in Class 2A and the final three as a Class 3A competitor.
No doubt about it, Megan Glisar’s high school career at Sergeant Bluff-Luton produced a pretty fair scrapbook.
However, there were no guarantees of more successes for an athlete whose best jump in the prep ranks was 5 feet, 8 inches.
That’s not a bad P.R., certainly. However, when she headed off to the University of Iowa, the odds on Glisar making noise at the Division I level was a bit of a longshot.
In November of 2010, after competing for the Hawkeyes as a freshman, she and former Bishop Heelan running back Brandon Wegher became parents to a baby boy, Brody.
However, like Wegher, whose 3,238 rushing yards in the fall of 2008 is still a state high school record, the freshman season in Iowa City would be her last.
Then, last winter and spring, after a year away from school, Glisar resurfaced quite successfully at Morningside College, shattering her personal best with a school-record leap of 5 feet, 10-3/4 inches. And, perhaps every bit as noteworthy, she won a national title at the NAIA Indoor Championships.
The progress hasn’t stopped there, even though Glisar took somewhat of a calculated risk, transferring last fall to the University of South Dakota. The move to her third different college was largely predicated on her decision to pursue a different course of study and the curriculum USD offers in that field.
“I shadowed a speech pathologist and decided I wanted to look into transferring to USD,’’ she said. “I’m really happy with my decision, but I was taking a little risk there in terms of what credits would transfer. It’s actually working out well.’’
By the time Glisar had enrolled at Morningside, she was starting to see the high jumping side of her life as “something on the side to help me get through school.’’ That was understandable enough with an infant son to raise while pursuing a degree.
However, after winning her last three state titles with identical leaps of 5-7, she moved into far more serious company with last year’s new P.R.
And, Glisar has taken another major step this spring, clearing an even 6-0 in each of her first outdoor meets for the Coyotes.
That performance currently ranks her in a tie for ninth in NCAA Division I. Which actually makes her one of several USD athletes on the national leader boards, which says a lot, I believe, for the university’s overall commitment in terms of Division I athletics.
Understandably, some might have felt the school was moving to Division I primarily for the revenues from fat TV contracts in football and basketball. It had occurred to me, in fact, that a transition from Division II might take its biggest toll on other sports like track and field.
I should have known better, though, considering the first-rate programs USD has enjoyed for years with Dave Gottsleben overseeing the men and Lucky Huber the women.
Gottsleben’s team, which won the Summit League indoor championship earlier this year, features junior distance runner Jeff Mettler, the conference indoor MVP who won the Drake Relays 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday, and discus thrower Cody Snyder, another junior who is ranked 30th nationally in the discus with a season best of 184-6.
Huber’s women, meanwhile, are a lofty No. 28 in the national team rankings, thanks in no small part to Glisar along with senior Alexa Duling in the 400 hurdles, freshman Meghan Dennis in the javelin, and no less than four of the nation’s top 28 pole vaulters, all working with former Olympian Derek Miles.
Duling’s :58.38 Saturday at Drake could move her into the top 20 when the next national rankings come out today. And, the personal best of :57.40 she ran last year would have ranked 10th on last week’s chart.
The remarkable pole vaulting crew has the national leader in Buell, a junior who has soared 14 feet, 7-1/2 inches but did not compete at Drake due to an injury. Sophomore Emily Grove (14-0) was 11th in last week’s rankings while freshmen Madison Mills (13 feet, 5-1/4 inches) and Hunter Wilkes (13 feet, 4-1/2 inches) were 22nd and 28th.
Glisar’s commitment has expanded to the point where she plans to spread out her last remaining season of eligibility over the next two years, competing next year in just the indoor or outdoor seasons, saving the other for 2015.
“This coach I have this year is just awesome -- everything’s coming together,’’ said Glisar, who is working with graduate assistant Ben Jasinski, a former 7-1 high jumper who graduated from South Dakota State two years ago.
“Track has actually turned out to be a lot more than what I’d expected, the way I’ve been improving,’’ said Glisar.
Friday, after a third-place finish in Drake’s university-college high jump event, Megan had fun showing off Brody, who will turn 3 next November.
“We had him down on the track and he got to go through the interview area and everything,’’ she said. “He had fun.’’
She politely declines to share information on Wegher, deferring to his privacy. All indications are they have a good relationship and both adore their son.
Other sources, meanwhile, have reported Brandon working out in Bradenton, Fla., where many potential professional athletes train at the same IMG Academy where Jack Wegher, Heelan’s freshman running back last autumn, is enrolled and hoping to play quarterback on the school’s first-ever interscholastic football team this fall.
Brandon, Iowa prep football’s third all-time leading rusher with 6,823 career yards, still has a few football options left, including the Canadian Football League, where his father, Rick, played. Although his five-year NCAA eligibility clock would still include the 2013 football season, that no longer appears feasible.