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Eric Peterson, Published May 08 2012

Cobbers junior responds after being thrown into the mix

Moorhead - When Kaari Jensen came to Concordia, she had never done the shot put. Initially, Jensen didn’t think the weighted sphere felt too heavy.

“But I happened to grab the lighter shot put that was a practice shot put,” Jensen said, recalling her freshman year. “Then I grabbed the real one and it was like, ‘Oh. This is a little heavier than I thought.’”

Her first throws weren’t very impressive, Jensen remembers, estimating her earliest throws sailing around 20 feet.

“I just know it didn’t go very far,” Jensen said with a laugh.

Now a junior, Jensen’s shot putting skill has evolved much like her success in the heptathlon.

Jensen set a Concordia school record in the heptathlon last week with 4,829 points, winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title.

Jensen had career-best performances in three of seven events, including a toss of 33 feet, 6½ inches in the shot put.

“She’s a true multi-eventer,” said Cobbers women’s track coach Marv Roeske. “The cumulative effect of all the events adds up to her big money event, which is the heptathlon. … You put the seven together and she might be a national champion either this year or next year.”

Jensen is ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division III in the heptathlon. She also figures to be a key figure this weekend at the MIAC outdoor championships, which are Friday and Saturday at Concordia. She is expected to compete in seven events, including the 100- hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, javelin, long jump, triple jump and high jump.

“I will be a busy girl, but hopefully I can get some points for the team,” said Jensen, from Pierz, Minn.

Jensen comes from an athletic family. Her parents are both coaches in Pierz. Her grandfather, John H. Reimer, has the sports complex in Pillager, Minn., named after him.

Jensen excelled in three sports at Pierz: tennis, basketball and track. One of her older sisters was also a multi-event athlete for the Cobbers.

Jensen enjoyed being a heptathlete from the start, even though she was new to four of the events, including the shot put and javelin.

“I thought it was cool to be able to do a lot of new events, learn new events,” said the 5-foot-9 Jensen. “I love the heptathlon.”

Jensen was solid in the heptathlon in her first two seasons. She’s flourished this spring. She’s improved 400 points off her top score from last season. Jensen said being more dedicated to her weight training is one factor that has helped in her improvement.

“She’s kind of matured over the last three years into one of the better multi-eventers in Division III,” said assistant coach Dan Buchholz, who is in charge of jumps. “It’s kind of been in the making since her first year.”

Jensen was surprised when she set the school record at the MIAC heptathlon last week at Carleton. She clocked a career-best time on the 800 to score the points she needed to eclipse the old mark by 17 points. Jensen was a teammate with the former record holder, Leah Kay, who scored 4.812 points in 2010.

“I knew I was capable of getting a score like that, but not this soon,” Jensen said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com