The spring sports season had the potential to be quite special for a few area athletes. We’ll never get that opportunity to know what might have been after COVID-19 concerns suspended and then shut down the spring sports season in Iowa.
One of those athletes who was hopeful for a big spring was Sidney senior Noah Jorgenson. He finished fourth in the 800 meter run at the state track and field meet as a junior and was runner-up at the state cross country meet last fall. There was little doubt what his goals were going into this spring, and that was to place as high as possible in multiple events at the state meet, and be the top finisher in at least one of them.
Jorgenson won’t get that chance, but he has spent the month taking down Sidney school records at a virtual track meet. The website athletic.net has put on virtual track meets over the past few weeks. There has been a high school division that’s open to anyone with video or GPS verification required for it to count.
Jorgenson has run the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter runs the last three Saturdays, and put down school record times in all three. His 3200 time was 9 minutes, 59 seconds. His 1600 time was 4:30.6 and he finished the 800 in 1:57.6, all school records. The 1600 time has been on the books at Sidney since 1964.
“I’m pretty happy with the times,” said Jorgenson. “I really wanted to break 10 minutes in the 2-mile, but I hadn’t run it since my sophomore year. I ran it once and I broke it. I think I can go faster because I had a little bit left. The 1600 record is really special because that was AD Benson’s record. The 800 was probably my best race because I died at the end, it felt really good.”
Jorgenson ran the 3200 and 800 by himself at Fremont-Mills’ track. Former Treynor cross country and track star and current University of Nebraska runner Jerry Jorgenson is also Noah’s cousin and paced him for the first 1,000 meters of the 1600.
Jorgenson had already been planning on trying some time trials just to see what kind of time he could put down.
“I was planning on running anyway with going to Central in the fall and wanting to be prepared,” said Jorgenson, “but it was just base training and I was worried I might burn out a little if I did that for six or seven months until fall cross country started.”
Jorgenson heard about the opportunity to run a time trial and have it verified in a virtual meet from his track and field coach Donnie Sears.
“I received an email from athletic.net that they were hosting these meets,” said Sears. “I called Noah to see if he would be interested.”
Jorgenson’s 800 time and his 1600 time would have won him last year’s state meet. The 3200 was officially a no-time race last year because of some lap confusion from the runners, but his time would have had him fifth in the state meet two years ago.
Steve Meyer coached Jorgenson in cross country during his Sidney career and said there’s little doubt in his mind Jorgenson would have been on top at the state meet.
“It’s too bad there wasn’t a real state track meet in Des Moines,” said Meyer, “since I could have witnessed a state champion run or two from a Sidney Cowboy.”
“I was excited for him this year to run the 2-mile, mile and 800 and medal high, if not be a state champion,” said Sears. “He went from a very good runner last year to the elite category. To run those times by himself, training on his own, that’s elite. If there was a state track meet, he would have put some numbers out where people would have said he’s a good one.”
Jorgenson was asked about receiving that kind of praise from his coaches, two men who are usually pretty reserved in giving public praise like that to their athletes.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Jorgenson. “One of my biggest goals was to be the hardest worker Coach Meyer has ever coached. He’s coached a lot of athletes that are really good, and based on my workouts that’s what made them believe in me.”
Meyer was then asked about Jorgenson’s goal.
“No question in my 40 plus years in Sidney,” said Meyer, “I have never had or seen a harder worker in one of the more grueling sports there is. There surely have been better all-around athletes from Sidney than Noah, but none willing to work day-in and day-out with such effort. He leaves without a last defining moment, but his memory will last a lifetime.”
Jorgenson wasn’t pleased to lose his final track and field season as a high school athlete, but he also feels his running career is just getting started.
“I was fairly confident going into the season that I was going to drop some pretty good times,” said Jorgenson. “I feel like I’m just dipping into the pool of what works for me as a runner and where I can really improve. With continued training I’m confident I can turn into a pretty good runner.”
Jorgenson’s running career at Sidney ends with two state track and field medals, a fourth place run in the 800 and fifth in the 4x800 relay at the 2019 state meet, and two state cross country medals, 11th place in 2018 and second in 2019.