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The least enjoyable is her most successful

CLEARBROOK, Minn. - In her illustrious athletic career here, Heidi Kjolhaug has enjoyed her greatest success in track. That's also the least enjoyable sport for the three-sport standout. "I don't know what it is about track," the Clearbrook-Gonvi...

CLEARBROOK, Minn. - In her illustrious athletic career here, Heidi Kjolhaug has enjoyed her greatest success in track.

That's also the least enjoyable sport for the three-sport standout.

"I don't know what it is about track," the Clearbrook-Gonvick High School senior said, "but it's really nerve-wracking for me. I guess I don't enjoy it as much as other sports. You don't have your teammates out there with you. You're on your own. That makes it a little harder.

"Maybe I just put too much pressure on myself."

In track, Kjolhaug is returning to a sport in which she was runner-up in the 100 meters and placed fifth in the 200 at the 2006 Minnesota Class A state meet.

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Kjolhaug finished her volleyball career with more than 1,000 digs. She had 1,361 points in her basketball career, a school record for the Bears' girls basketball program.

"These girls (at Clearbrook-Gonvick) did a wonderful job in volleyball," Bears girls track coach Sarah Goudge said. "They pushed themselves farther in basketball. I think the success in her other sports helps Heidi in track, just like what she did in track helped her in her other sports. She developed a confidence after what she did last spring in track.

"I think Heidi can definitely place higher in the 200 his year. And I feel she's ready to be a state champion (in the 100)."

Kjolhaug already is on a faster pace than she set a year ago.

The Bears compete in one indoor meet, the Little Amik in Bemidji. She won the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.69 seconds last season; she repeated with a winning time of :07.54 this year. In the 200, she had a winning time of :27.56, down from the :28.43 she ran while winning the event in the 2006 meet.

"I'm a little surprised by that," said Kjolhaug, who plans to play basketball at College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., next year. "At the beginning of the season, I always feel like I'm slower. I guess I just assume that until we get outside and start doing our workouts."

Said Goudge: "Heidi says she doesn't feel like she's ready to go yet. To have won those races, and to have a faster time than last year while feeling like she doesn't have it all together yet, that's a good sign. She knows she has more to give."

How much more would it take for Kjolhaug to be a state champion?

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Megan Geyen of Watertown-Meyer won the 100 at state last spring with a time of :12.73. Kjolhaug ran a :13.09 - slower than her winning time of :12.74 in the Section 8A meet.

"All-around, Heidi is probably one of the best athletes I've ever seen," Goudge said. "She just has natural strength.

"She's probably a good start away from winning (at state). That's what it often comes down to in the 100. There's very little margin for error. She's a strong runner, with good form. It will take the technique at the start. If we can get her confident in her start, I think she can go all the way."

Kjolhaug isn't thinking about a state title.

Geyen was an underclassman last season, so Kjolhaug figures she's still the runner to beat. Her track goals aren't about winning state.

"I don't have any big expectations," she said. "My goals are always to make it to state and improve my times.

"I just do track for fun. It's not my favorite sport."

With Kjolhaug's speed, however, it has been her most successful sport in a very successful multisport career.

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Reach DeVillers at (800) 477-6572, ext. 128, (701) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^780-1128 or by e-mail at gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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