A year ago, Edina High School student Will Hanson never saw himself winning State for long jump in track and field. “I had no idea going into the season that I would have this much success,” Will says. “I wasn’t really looking at it as ‘I have a chance to win State for this.’” During the pandemic, Will decided to try a new sport during his senior year at Edina high school. A longtime baseball player, Will made the transition to track and field after a friend convinced him.
His track and field journey had a rocky start. During the beginning of the regular season, Will’s hamstrings were injured due to sprint drills during practice. “I missed about half of the season. I missed my first four meets.,” he says. This setback made Will reconsider which events to compete in during the season. He originally planned to compete in the 100- and 200-yard dash, but his coaches had other plans. Will says, “Initially, I did not know I was going to primarily be a jumper. After getting injured, my coach asked me to focus on the long jump because it seemed I had the most success there.”
As the regular season progressed, Will began to realize more and more how much he enjoyed track and field, specifically the practices. “Track and field have the most enjoyable practices. I always looked forward to having them. The coaches’ support made my day better every time I went to practice.” Will’s coach, Matt Gabrielson, appreciated the positivity Will brought to practices. He says, “Will wanted his training partners to be just as successful as himself.”
Will’s progression became evident to his mother Deb during meets. Initially, Deb Hanson was surprised by her son’s decision to not play baseball for his senior year. But as Will began to take track and field more seriously, Deb was pleased with the decision. “We were actually really happy that he went out for it once we started seeing what was going on,” she says.
By the end of the regular season, Will exceeded his own expectations when he won sectionals in the long jump, making him eligible to go to the State tournament. On the day of State championships, Will was nervous yet excited for the opportunity. “Mentally, I was locked in,” he says. “Physically, I remember having a stomachache right before the jump, which made me a little concerned. Once the adrenaline kicked in after my first jump, I was good to go.”
Will had four attempts to record his best long jump score. On his final attempt Will landed a jump of 22 feet and 3.25 inches, passing the original leading jumper by an inch! Will Hanson became the State long jump champion with a jumping record that was just shy of breaking the all-time record from 1966.
Many recognize that Will’s ability to win State after only competing in the sport of track and field for only a few months is astounding. Since then, Will has been offered a spot on the track and field team at the University of St. Thomas for this upcoming academic year. His parents are immensely proud of their son for putting himself out there. “Getting out of that comfort zone and taking a chance in something brand new paid off,” Deb says. Now a State champion, Will believes it is important to never doubt one’s self. His takeaway is, “If there is a new sport that you want to try, just go for it because you really don’t know how far you can go until you try.”