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John's Journal: Irondale’s Hughes Goes Out In Triple Gold Style

Arkansas-Bound Superstar Sweeps State Titles in Long Jump, 100, 200

Posted: Sunday, June 9, 2024 - 12:20 PM


Irondale senior Juriad Hughes Jr. stood atop the podium three times at the Class 3A state championships.


Fridley won the Class 2A boys state championship.

As I watched Juriad Hughes compete in three events Saturday during the Class 3A track and field state championships at St. Michael-Albertville, I recalled what a coach at the University of Arkansas told me about Hughes for a story I wrote in May.

Arkansas associate head coach Travis Geopfert, who coaches the Razorback jumpers and helped recruit Juriad to become a member of his team, said, “When the lights turn on, he’s a great competitor.”

Well, the lights were on Saturday in the form of bright sunshine, and the highly decorated Irondale senior only added to a high school career that will go down in Minnesota history.

Hughes won the long jump with a leap of 24 feet, 5¼ inches, finished first in the 200 meters in 21.22 and won the 100 meters in a blazing time of 10.53 seconds. His time, which was wind-aided, matched the all-time state-record of 10.53 set by Hopkins' Joe Fahnbulleh in 2019.

Juriad set the all-time state record in the long jump of 24 feet, 11¾ last year, when he became the best teenage long jumper in the western hemisphere by winning the long jump at the Pan American Under-20 Championships in Mayagues, Puerto Rico.

“I’m tired but I'm blessed,” he said a few minutes after the final event of his storied high school career in Minnesota. “I came in with a plan, and to get a sweep at state, it's a dream come true. It's my last meet in high school track and I tried to go out with a bang.”

He has seen a lot in his high school career, highs as well as lows. When he was a sophomore in 2022, he was disqualified in the 100 final because of a false start, and that was his only appearance at state. Last year at state, Hughes won the long jump, placed fifth in the 200 and didn’t qualify for state in the 100.

His record-matching time in the 100 came came in the midst of the long jump competition, where he was leading with what would be the winning jump. After his gasp-inducing finish in the 100, he passed on his final long jump attempt in order to save energy for the 200.

He said running a 10.35 in the 100 gave him some extra juice, which he decided to save for the 200.

“I ended up with the 24-5 (in the long jump),” he said. “It’s not what I was projecting to get but I came out on top and that's all I could ask for.”

Hughes finished his senior year with the season’s best performances in all three events, leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time.

“It’s been heck of a ride, for sure,” he said.

Hughes was one of two all-time state record holders competing at state. Apple Valley senior Dwyne Brown Jr., who will run at the University of Minnesota, won the 3A 400 meters in 47.55 seconds. Brown ran a 46.93 earlier in the season, topping the previous state record of 47.18 by Quinn Evans of Mounds View in 2007.

Fridley won the Class 2A boys team championship with a roster consisting of six athletes. Sophomore Lorenzo Hampton won the 300-meter hurdles and was seventh in the 110-meter hurdles; seniors Isaiah Watson and Fadel Johnson finished second and third in the long jump; and the Tigers’ quartet of Lex Korti, Tykeilan Hy Shaw-Moore, Cajrtez Cook Jr. and Hampton finished fourth in the 4x100 relay. Fridley finished with 59 points, two more than runner-up Mankato East.

Saturday was a big day for Providence Academy senior Brooke Hohenecker, winning the 100, 200 and 400. The Lions third among Class 2A girls teams with 62 points. The title went to Alexandria with 79 points and Monticello was second with 68.5.

Double event winners in the three-day, six-session championships were …

Dylan Gross, Brainerd, 3A boys shot put, discus

Robert Mechura, Roseville, 3A boys 1600, 3200

Claire Kohler, Minnetonka, 3A girls 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles

Isabelle Schmitz, Hutchinson, 2A girls 1600, 3200

TJ Christensen, Litchfield, 1A boys shot put, discus

Ava Phrakonkham, Bagley/Fosston, 1A girls 100, 200

Audrey Brownell, Staples-Motley, 1A girls 800, 1600

McKaylen Lewis, Math & Science,1A girls  long jump, high jump

Lewis was one of two ninth-graders to win Class 1A state titles in field events. The other was Ellie Sosa of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in the triple jump. In Class 3A, Minnetonka ninth-grader Evie Malek won the 1600 meters and Elk River ninth-grader Shiaflyn Cooper won the triple jump.

History was made during Saturday’s Class 3A session. It was the first time in state track history that two female starters worked the same session. Congratulations to Rita Rislund (a member of the MSHSL Hall of Fame) and Jen Myers.

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] or [email protected]

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