Track and field: McCleary, Rustad snap school records in Perham's home invite
Jakob McCleary continued his banner senior year by snapping a school record in the 800-meter run by over two seconds that stood for 18 years. Now, he's focused on finishing his senior year with a repeat state championship at the state Class A meet. Lauryn Rustad also broke the 100-meter school record, which she originally set on Tuesday in Fergus Falls.
PERHAM – Jakob McCleary woke up on Thursday and knew he would set the school record in the 800-meter race. He didn’t know that he would shatter the previous mark by two seconds and set the fastest time in the state this spring.
The Perham senior clocked in at 1:53.21 at Ted Meinhover Field on a windy afternoon, breaking David Kruger’s record of 1:55.24 set in 2004.
“Running 1:53 was never in my mind,” McCleary said. “I thought I would run a low 1:55 or break into the 1:54’s. It might sound cheesy, but I knew I was going to break the school record when I woke up this morning. I felt like today was the day… I told myself that if I got a good chance, I would take it. When I was warming up, I told the guys that today was going to be a good day. Coming down the home stretch, I knew it was a good day.”
Perham long-distance coach Jeff Morris said it’s a day they’ve been working towards for a long time.
“I had a breakout race my freshman year,” McCleary said. “It was kind of random when it happened. I was more of a miler. I touched the 800 a little bit but never really focused on it. Once I found out I had some foot speed, I kind of just ran with it. It’s been a long time coming to get to this. When I heard them say my time, that’s a feeling you can’t describe. I wasn’t expecting to run that time this early. That’s a state time, and it was a great run.”
McCleary is a University of Minnesota cross country commit and the reigning Class A state champion in the 800-meter. His Thursday time secured a spot in the national meet later this year. McCleary also won the Class A boys cross country title in the fall. After a rocky start to his 2022 campaign, he feels like he’s running the best races of his life.
“I honestly don’t feel it anymore,” McCleary said on if he feels pressure to win the state championship. “I lost my first outdoor race of the year. I got beat by a kid in Fergus Falls. He’s a very good runner, but when I look at his times and what he’s run, I know I should beat him. That impacted me mentally. I was in a muddy place. It sucked, but I needed that. It told me I was beatable. Having the thought in my head that I am beatable will never let me beat myself again.”
A large Yellowjacket-faithful crowd was in awe of McCleary’s record-setting performance. After crossing the finish line, he spent the next hour taking pictures and sharing laughs with loved ones and longtime competitors.
“I have so many friends and family here today,” McCleary said. “I have a lot of people that I’ve been running against for a long time. None of this would be possible without my friends, family and faith. I have to thank God. He’s got me through a lot of stuff. I pray before every run, and that gets me ready for this.”
McCleary will never run another high school race in Perham again. After half a decade of competing at the varsity level in track and cross country, he finished his final home meet on top one more time.
“I think it was a big statement for myself to leave my mark on Perham and Perham athletics. It felt like a farewell and a kiss goodbye to this track,” McCleary said. “The amount of workouts I’ve run on this track, races I’ve run on this track–I think I’ve thrown up out here once or twice. I have so many memories of running here. To top it all off with a school-record, state-leading time and national qualifier is a big statement for myself.”
Rustad breaks school record in the 100-meter hurdles
McCleary wasn’t the only Yellowjacket that made history on Thursday. For the second time this week, Lauryn Rustad broke the Perham’s 100-meter hurdle record. On Tuesday, she set the record with a third-place finish (16.31) at the Section 8-2A True Team meet in Fergus Falls. She shaved off 0.16 seconds on Thursday for a time of 16.15.
The Perham girls won seven events in total in their home invite. Leelou Novotny won the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:52.50. Ella Hendrickson took first in the 900-meter at 2:33.87.
In the field events, Gracie Edwards took the top spot in the discus at 94-feet, 4-inches. Cate Diggins won the shot put crown at 29-feet, 8-inches, while Natalie Rooney led all pole vaulters (10-feet).
The Perham boys won eight events. Tyrus Coudron cruised to first place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.81. Carter Flatau paced the 1,600-meter pack at 5:45.90. The Yellowjackets also won the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays.
Connor Kostynick won both the discus (147-feet, 7-inches) and shot put (44-feet, 11-inches) events. Aiden Kennedy pole-vaulted 11-feet to take first as well.
Both Perham teams took first overall. The girls (175) finished 60 points better than second-place Frazee. The Yellowjacket boys edged out Pelican Rapids with 184 points.