SIBLEY, Iowa – The only thing more impressive than how high Grant Brouwer can jump is how quickly he has turned himself into one of the state’s best.
The Sibley-Ocheyedan junior went from not qualifying for the high jump at the state meet as a freshman to the Class 2A state runner-up a year ago. Brouwer will return to Drake Stadium and the Iowa State Track and Field Championships on Thursday with the highest expectations.
“It was obviously a lot of hard work in the weight room every day trying to get better,” said Brouwer of his impressive improvement. “I really wanted to go (to state as a freshman) and I thought I had a good chance but I just missed it. I used it as motivation the next year.”
Brouwer, who grew about four inches from freshman to sophomore year, enters this year’s state meet having cleared 6 feet, 9 inches, a significant improvement over the 6-4 he jumped at state last year. The 6-9 effort shattered the previous school record of 6-6.
“I think my form is the big key that improved the most,” he said. “When I take off and lift my knee I really just try to emphasize arching my back and tucking my chin in once I am over the bar.”
“He is just naturally talented at it and he does really focus on technique with his high jumping,” Sibley-Ocheyedan coach Peter Carlson said. “He is just very natural to that event.”
Brouwer enters state as a different jumper given all the experience he has gained since leaving as the runner-up a year ago.
“(Last year) was a great experience once I got there,” he said. “I was just hoping to come in and get a medal and I would have really been satisfied with that. Once I got to the top eight I knew I could get better than that.”
Brouwer proved that the pressure did not get to him as he cleared each of the first four heights -- 5-10, 6-0, 6-2 and 6-4 -- on his first attempt before missing all three at 6-6.
“I think it was just exciting for him last year at the state meet to see what was happening and have him finish like he did,” Carlson said. “With the state meet coming up I expect him to be a contender for first place.”
He also got to experience the Drake Relays for the first time this spring and going up against the best in the state, all classes, he came away with a fourth-place showing, clearing 6-7.
“It really helped me when it comes to the mental part,” Brouwer said. “There are all these great athletes there and just being able to compete with them and (realize) you are just as good as them is what I took from that.”
Brouwer will have a chance to reverse last year’s state result as defending champion Miles Rupiper of Carroll Kuemper is back to defend his title as a senior. Rupiper cleared 6-6 to win a year ago and has gone as high as 6-10 this season, the top effort in the state.
“It is nice to have someone push me a little bit because meets around here I don’t get a whole lot of competition,” Brouwer said. “There is a kid from Sheldon that pushes me, but it is nice to have some competitors.”
Brouwer, who finished ninth at the Class 1A state cross country meet in the fall, will also run in the 400 for the Generals this week.
“I wasn’t expecting that because I didn’t run a very good time, but I was still pretty happy to qualify,” he said.