U high jumper

David La

As he cleared a personal best height of 7-3.25 at the Big Ten championships last weekend, Gophers high jumper Marc Johannsen finally accomplished a goal that had literally been written in the stars.
In his bedroom at home, Johannsen put small adhesive stars on his ceiling to read “7-3”. This unique glow-in-the-dark motivator helped him remember where he wanted to be by the season’s end.
“Now I’ve got to change it,” Johannsen said.
While he did not clear an automatic NCAA qualifying height, Johannsen is sitting comfortably in the rankings and will be a cinch to go to Boise, Idaho, June 2-5 for the outdoor championships. Even so, Johannsen played it coy when relaying the good news to his mother.
“I just kept putting it off and putting it off,” Johannsen said of his phone call. “She finally said, ‘So, you didn’t tell me how you did.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve only got one thing to say to you. Buy a ticket to Boise.'”
Official invitations to the meet were extended late Thursday night.
Before heading for the West Coast, however, the Johannsen clan has to make a change to their records, as Marc now has “joint custody” of the family high jump record of 7-3.25 held previously by his older brother Nick.
Marc comes from a long and distinguished line of high jumpers. His mother, Sue, was an Iowa state champion, eldest brother Nick competed for Kansas and older brother Neil was a formidable jumper as well. The three Johannsen brothers soared to winning heights for a combined seven consecutive years while at Miller High School in South Dakota.
Despite his high school success, Marc was redshirted his first year at Minnesota and dealt with the usual problems faced by star athletes. He essentially had to start his career all over again.
“My redshirt freshman year I didn’t do too well,” Johannsen said. “That was a growing year for me. Last year I hit seven feet, which is a big barrier for any high jumper. This year I just wanted to start being consistent, which I have.”
Gophers coach Phil Lundin said Johannsen’s upcoming berth at the national level will undoubtedly prove to be positive, regardless of the sophomore’s place in the final standings.
“Getting to the NCAAs now as an underclassman is very helpful because he could jump extremely well or blow up,” Lundin said. “Either way, he’s going to have the NCAA experience, which will help in the future.”
But Marc has already come a long way this season, adding yet another star to the Johannsen family constellation.