Loberg leaps from court to high jump

Senior Katie Loberg is jumping for the first time since high school.

Megan Ryan

Katie Loberg may be graduating in a few weeks with her journalism degree, but the former Gophers basketball forward could pass for a freshman on the track and field team.

Loberg joined the team about a month ago as a high jumper, a role she hasn’t competed as since high school. But in her first season with the Gophers, the 6-foot-4-inch senior still has to carry all the equipment when the team travels.

Loberg said she doesn’t mind reliving her freshman year because high jumping has always been her second passion behind basketball.

“I always kind of had it in the back of my mind,” Loberg said. “As soon as my basketball season ended, I knew I wasn’t done being an athlete.”

Head coach Matt Bingle said he had talked with Loberg while she was still in high school and kept in touch throughout her college career. She eventually approached him about joining the track team.

Bingle said she was a welcome addition since another high jumper was injured, but there was still a learning curve. He said Loberg asks “cute” and “simple” questions about the sport.

“Just things that you just kind of giggle at,” Bingle said. “She’s really like a freshman … from not knowing what to wear or when to put your shoes on [to] how to put a mark down.”

Loberg said she asked Bingle for help at first.

“Jumping back into track, I don’t like to mess up and do things wrong,” Loberg said. “I kept asking Bingle, like, ‘What do I do here? What do I do now?’ … I’m sure I get on Bingle’s nerves sometimes.”

Eventually, Bingle directed Loberg to senior high jumper Melissa Flucke.

“Flucke has been basically like [a] big sister and taking care of her,” Bingle said.

While Flucke and Loberg have become buddies, Flucke said she appreciates having a teammate with so much natural ability around to push her.

“It’s helped me that she’s been here because she’s so tall. She’s like 6’4” and I’m 5’7”, so I’m like, ‘Well, I want to jump as high as you do.’” Flucke said. “It’s made me better.”

Bingle said he has kept Loberg’s training simple during her few weeks on the team. But both he and Loberg said they hope to expand her training if she decides to compete for a full season next year.

“I relearned my passion for track, and it’s kind of all coming back to me now,” Loberg said. “I just started, and I’m not ready to be done. So I would love to take a fifth year if I could figure out the logistics behind it school-wise.”