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Blooming Prairie's Forsberg now a believer and a star

Blooming Prairie sophomore Annaka Forsberg has the best high-jump mark of anyone this season in Class A, 5-feet-7.

Section 1A Track & Field Finals At Triton
Blooming Prairie high jumper Annaka Forsberg stands for a portrait ahead of the Section 1A finals at Triton High School in Dodge Center, Minnesota on Thursday, June 2, 2022. Forsberg has gone 5-feet-7 this season, tops in the state among Class A high jumpers.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin
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There was a time when Annaka Forsberg refused to try the high jump, not wanting to embarrass herself in front of anyone who might be watching.

Now look at her. And listen to her.

“It’s a lot of fun doing the high jump and kind of not knowing how you’re going to do that day,” the Blooming Prairie sophomore said. “As you go up in heights, you build excitement. It’s fun having everyone sitting there, watching you do it.”

Yes, this is a changed Annaka Forsberg.

It’s also an immensely talented one. Always known as a great leaper, Forsberg finally did get up the nerve to give the high jump a try.

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That went well. Incredibly well.

Forsberg’s first-ever attempt at it saw her clear 4 feet, 8 inches. That’s high enough to actually win some meets.

And in her first competition, she went 4-10. That often does win meets.

The girl who once feared she’d be laughed at if she ever tried the high jump, instead finds herself eliciting nothing but oohs and awes when she performs.

From scared to try, to pining for that next performance and wondering if the sky really might be the limit for her. That is Annaka Forsberg these days.

“Being a state record holder, that is now one of my goals,” Forsberg said.

It’s not inconceivable.

After giving the high jump a try for the first time last season, then finishing that year in the state meet where she cleared 5-foot-3 for fourth place, Forsberg now has a personal best of 5-7 this season. That is 3 inches higher than anyone else in Class A this season. The state-meet record is 5-10, set in 1986 by Rochester John Marshall graduate Linda Barsness.

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Forsberg will find herself back in the state meet on Thursday at St. Michael/Albertville. Class A has a handful of events as finals that day, including the high jump.

Setting a state record this year would be stunning for her. But to do it in the next two years, that could just happen.

Coach saw it coming

None of these developments are particularly surprising to Blooming Prairie girls track-and-field coach Alli Schmidt. Schmidt has long known that Forsberg, also among the fastest girls on the team, is a special athlete.

Schmidt watched Forsberg show off her leaping skills on the volleyball court, where the 5-foot-7 sophomore is a middle blocker for the Blossoms.

“Yeah, I’m actually not surprised at what she’s done,” Schmidt said. “She is a hard worker and a wonderful athlete. In volleyball, she gets a lot of height on her jumps. She is really explosive.”

Forsberg is also agile, able to nicely contort her body as she arches her back in sailing over the high jump bar. That’s another ability she derived from another sport, having been a gymnast in her youth.

Gymnastics has also helped her handle pressure. Few sports demand that all eyes be on you like gymnastics, with gymnasts taking turns doing their routines and then literally judged as they do them.

“Gymnastics has helped hold my nerves together when I high jump,” Forsberg said. “I’m pretty good with handling that pressure. In gymnastics, you are kind of out there by yourself, with everyone watching you, and you have to perform for your team. I’m able to hold it together when I high jump.”

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That she ever gave the high jump a try also can be credited to her father, Andy Forsberg. Himself a high jumper while growing up in Minneapolis, Andy had long urged Annaka to give high jumping a try. He was sure his daughter would excel in it.

When she finally did say yes to it and had immediate success, Andy had a large smile on his face and predictable words for her.

“He told me, ‘I told you so,’ ” Annaka said. “But I was so excited to tell him.”

Her father continues to give Annaka advice and encouragement about the high jump, and has been thrilled by her accomplishments.

He keeps telling her to believe in herself, that she can keep climbing.

There is every reason to believe him.

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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