With quiet and humble confidence, Nolan Michaelson knew.
As soon as Staples-Motley junior Brian Huber registered a 21-6 long jump in the Class 1A state meet June 9 at Hamline University, the Pequot Lakes senior knew his school-record 21-foot, 10-inch long jump would be enough for the state crown.
He was right.
“When I heard [the judge] tell me 21-10, I knew I was in first,” Michaelson said of his second jump at the meet.
At that point, Huber was likely Michaelson’s only competition as the Staples-Motley jumper had recorded a 22-2 earlier in the year. But Huber was unable to edge the Pequot Lakes senior for the state crown.
Michaelson entered the state meet as the 13th seed in the long jump.
“I didn’t practice during the year much because my knees would bother me,” he said. “With the excitement and adrenaline, I was able to create a strong, positive attitude.”
He also noted that the weather was warm at state, allowing him to get loose enough to compete at a higher level.
The 2012 graduate notched 21-2 and 21-4.5 in his first two preliminary round jumps at state and clinched a spot in the finals with a third jump of 21-7.
“It could be a pretty good day,” Michaelson said of his thoughts after making it to the finals.
“I just came out and did my thing,” he added. “I never thought that I’d be state champion. I just wanted to break the school record and let the rest fall in place.”
Possibly the most incredible thing about Michaelson’s state championship is that he was only in his second season of track, and had spent every spring sports season through his sophomore year playing golf for the Patriots.
“My brother Matt joined track his senior year and said he liked it, and golf just wasn’t my gig,” Michaelson said.
Long jump was not the only event at which Michaelson excelled. The senior anchored the 4x100 relay team and helped them to a ninth-place finish at state where they recorded a season-best time of 44.99 seconds.
“We were all pumped, and [did pretty good] despite a few iffy handoffs,” he said.
It would be an understatement to say that Michaelson was involved in sports in his time at Pequot Lakes High School. He was a big contributor in Patriots football as a running back and as a forward in basketball. When asked about his favorite moments from each sport he smiled and said, “Being with my buddies everyday at practice and having that camaraderie.”
Michaelson said defeating Perham in football his sophomore year in the conference championship game at home and beating Thief River Falls in the 2011 playoffs after the Patriots had lost to them in the regular season were some of his favorite moments.
When asked about his favorite basketball moments, he replied, “Bus rides, playing the game, beating Crosby twice this year and being a part of Red’s big game.” Michaelson was referring to the Patriots’ home game against Crosby-Ironton when junior post Jordan Redmond led the team to victory days after his father’s death.
Outside of school, “anything extreme or outdoors” most likely interests Michaelson. He’s an avid snowboarder and wake boarder and enjoys hunting and hiking.
Michaelson plans on attending North Dakota State University in the fall and will major in mechanical engineering. He said he is not sure whether he will participate in track for the Bison.
When asked what advice he had for someone who wants to pick up a sport and excel, the state champion said the best thing to do is to “go out there, give it 110 percent all the time, believe in yourself and trust in the Lord.”
If anybody knows something about picking up a sport and excelling quickly, it’s Nolan Michaelson.