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John’s Journal: Without A Track, Nevis Has A Track Superstar

Jade Rypkema Matches Carrie Tollefson With Three Titles In Class 1A 3,200 Meters

Posted: Friday, June 9, 2023 - 5:31 PM


Jade Rypkema ran away from the field in the Class 1A 3,200 meters.


Tom Bracher, track and field official who worked at state meets for more than 50 years before passing away in February, is being remembered at the 2023 state meet.

Nevis High School does not have a track. But it does have one of the most decorated track athletes in Minnesota history.

Jade Rypkema, a senior from the small town in northern Minnesota, etched her name alongside some of the greatest distance runners in history as her high school career came to an end this week with the state championship meet at St. Michael-Albertville.

A dominating victory in Thursday’s Class A 3,200-meter race gave Jade three consecutive state titles at that distance. A dive into the record books reveals that Jade is in good company: 2004 Olympian Carrie Tollefson did the same thing for Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley, winning the 3,200 in 1991, 1993 and 1994. The same feat was accomplished by Holy Family's Bria Wetsch in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

History is littered with other high-level runners who won the Class 1A 3,200 twice. They include Lauren Ping of Winona Cotter in 2018 and 2019, Clare Flanagan of Blake in 2013 and 2014, Maddie McClellan of Perham in 2009 and 2010, and Kristi Colbenson of Rushford-Peterson in 1997 and 1998.

Jade won Thursday’s 3,200 with a time of 10 minutes, 35.2 seconds. The runner-up was Murray County Central senior Amanda Overgaauw, who finished in 10:54.96.

Rypkema also rolled to a large margin of victory in Friday’s 1,600 for her second consecutive title in that event. Her winning time of 4:54.27 was nine seconds ahead of runner-up Natasha Sortland of Zumbrota-Mazeppa.

Rypkema also is a standout during the fall cross-country season, finishing ninth at state as a ninth-grader, fifth as a junior (that race was won by Amanda Overgaauw) and first as a senior last fall (followed by Amanda and her twin sister Ashley).

Nevis and Murray County Central in Slayton are 240 miles apart, but the competition between Jade and the Overgaauw twins has driven all three.

“Oh, she's a great, great friend,” Amanda said of Jade after the 3,200. “I love racing her, she always pushes me.”

Jade said of the Overgaauws, “Oh, I love them. You can’t wish for better competitors. They're always so nice and kind before and after the races. Sometimes people before races are really like squared off and Amanda always makes sure she comes up to me and we talk before we race.”

Rypkema, who will run collegiately at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, has experienced lots of highs during her Nevis career. There also has been at least one memorable low, coming when she tested positive for Covid three weeks before the state cross-country meet as a junior.

 “It definitely set me back a little bit,” she said. “But I think it actually made me better because there's nothing like going down, and that motivated me forward.”

Items of Note

--It has been a heck of a spring for Mahtomedi High School, which has seven teams playing in state tournaments. Those Zephyrs teams are boys and girls track, boys and girls golf, boys tennis, boys lacrosse and baseball.

--Tom Bracher, a longtime MSHSL track and field official who worked at state meets for more than 50 years, passed away in February at age 76. Last year's state meet was Tom’s final such event, and at this week’s meet he is being honored and remembered with an empty chair in the shot put area. The chair bears a photo of Tom.

--The Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland/Southland girls 4x200 relay team won the state title in that race for the fifth consecutive time. This year’s foursome is Lydia Redman, Chantle Reiland, Breeley Galle and Anika Reiland. Chantle Reiland also won the Class A title in the 100 meters on Friday.

--Julia Fixsen, a 2019 graduate of Mounds View who holds the state high school record in the girls pole vault, captured the NCAA title in that event Thursday at the national championships in Austin, Texas. Julie, a junior at Virginia Tech, entered the meet ranked 10th in the nation and topped the field by clearing a height of 14 feet, 7 ¼ inches. Her Minnesota high school record is 13-11¼.

--MSHSL media specialist 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] 

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