by Bruce Strand, Sports Editor
When Kalvin Diekman ran his first-ever 110 high hurdles on April 29, his coach was stunned at the time registering on his hand-held stopwatch.
“Coach came up to me,” Diekman recalled, “and said, ‘Um, are you aware that you just beat the state-qualifying time?’”
Just five weeks and six races later, Diekman captured the silver medal in his new event at the state Class A meet, marking the top athletic achievement in his school’s seven-year history.
He was already the Sting record-holder in three other events when coach Rick Peterson asked him to run the highs in a meet at Columbia Heights.
“Kalvin just missed state in the 300 last year,” Peterson said, “so we put him in the 110 to work on his 300 start and hopefully set a school record in the 110s as well.”
After Diekman won easily, Peterson did a double-take to see 14.8 on his watch and 14.9 on another coach’s. He knew a hand-held 14.8 would translate to low 15’s on automatic timing, still under state qualifying.
Perhaps the hurdles had been set too low, the coach wondered? But, careful examination of a photo of the race the next day showed that the hurdles were at the correct notch. It was legit.
“So we both figured, we better leave him in the highs,” the coach said, adding that assistant coach Dylan Hass, former Princeton star hurdler, worked with Diekman.
Diekman won Section 5A in a personal-best 15.14 at St. John’s on May 29. His 15.53 at state prelims June 7 was the third-best time. He moved up a notch with 15.34 in the finals June 8, beating all but St. Croix Luthreran’s Jon Tollefson, who had 14.72.
That’s a remarkable feat, considering that Diekman was as green as the surface he practiced upon. As Peterson noted, “A special challenge is that we don’t have a track at Spectrum, so we practice on the grass and have to estimate the distance between hurdles.”
Asked how he picked up a new event so fast, Diekman said, “My dad told me I’m maybe not the fastest runner or the highest jumper, but I’ve got a lot of flexibility and some speed. And I’ve been able to pull it all together in the 110 hurdles.”
He has the Sting records in the 300H (41.25), triple jump (39-2) and long jump (19-2) as well.
The 3-year-old Spectrum track program took home its first two state medals. Kayla Zimmrman, a junior, was fourth in the 800 meters.
“We just started two years ago, and we have come a long ways,” said Diekman, who long-jumped for the Elk varsity his freshman year.
Diekman is also a three-year letterman in soccer as a defender. His favorite part of soccer is overtaking an opponent who’s breaking toward the goal. “I love to use my speed to catch them steal the ball,” Diekman said.
Not much of a sports fan other than participating, Diekman is more of a computer geek. His senior project was assembling a computer from scratch, researching components online, to produce one good for gaming without being expensive. He leans toward computer science as a career.
The Otsego resident was prepared to start college at Anoka-Ramsey as just a student, and he might still do that, but a few college coaches took notice of this unsigned and promising hurdler after the state meet, causing him to explore options. “I am going on some college visits,” Diekman said. Maybe there are more challenging hurdles in his future.
THE DIEKMAN SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Karl and Krissi; brothers William and Victor; sisters Noelle and Jannie … Sports: soccer, cross-country, track … Other activities: music … Academics: B average … College: Anoka-Ramsey (tentative), computer science or networking
Favorite stuff — Class: Calculus ITV … TV show: “Psyche” … Reading: Harry Potter … Food: Mom’s chicken enchilada … Drink: Arnold Palmer (tea/lemonade) … Music: Coldplay … Kickback: computer video games, especially League of Legends … Wants to visit: Europe, especially Sweden