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Pete's Point: Jacobson, Wurdeman getting familiar with Hamline

Pequot Lakes’ volunteer assistant coach Bud Bjornarra, left, talks with the Patriots’ Travis Jacobson at the Class A state track and field meet on Friday, June 6, at Hamline University. Photo by Pete Mohs1 / 2
Pequot Lakes graduates Travis Jacobson, left, and Kale Wurdeman were at the state meet at Hamline University on Friday, June 6. They both plan to compete in football and track and field next year as students at Hamline. Photo by Pete Mohs2 / 2

Pequot Lakes seniors Travis Jacobson and Kale Wurdeman both had an early preview of their future college campus last weekend at the Class A state track and field meet at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Jacobson was at state competing in the shot put and discus events while Wurdeman was in attendance at state supporting his Patriot teammates. The two recent graduates will be returning to Hamline in two months to begin their college careers, also also being part of the Division III athletic program for the Pipers.

Jacobson, who finished third at state in the shot put and ninth in discus, will be participating in football and track at Hamline. Wurdeman, who missed qualifying for state in track, plans to participate in the sport at Hamline, and also has taken an interesting path to a college football career.

"Last fall, I went out for football for the first time," he said. "I thought it was awesome. I wanted to play in college, so I started sending out emails to colleges. The first school to respond was Hamline. I thought it was cool that a college was showing interest in me."

The Pipers plan to have Wurdeman competing as a punter and kicker.

"I played soccer all my life," said the senior, who competed in soccer in recent years with the Brainerd Warriors on a cooperative program. "I even played soccer and football at the same time last fall. So I'm able to kick the football pretty well."

Wurdeman committed to Hamline just before Jacobson made his decision.

"We'll see each other every day, which is pretty cool," he said. "It looks like we will be playing football and track together. I recently watched one of the (Hamline) track practices, and I'm excited to be a walk-on to the team."

Pequot Lakes boys' track coach Dave Guenther is excited about the college athletic careers of Jacobson and Wurdeman.

"We will miss both of those seniors, and I'm proud of them," he said. "I wish Kale could have made it to state this year. You see these kids work so hard that you just wish they could all move on to (state)."

Bjornarra returns to Twin Cities

While Jacobson and Wurdeman were getting a look at their future at Hamline, Pequot Lakes' volunteer assistant track and field coach Bud Bjornarra was probably looking back at his past when he returned to the Twin Cities for the state meet.

Prior to joining the Patriots' staff, the 75-year-old Bjornarra was a long-time coach and teacher in the Twin Cities before retiring in 1999.

"I spent more than 40 years coaching track and field," he said. "Most of those years were at Apple Valley High School."

Bjornarra also worked as an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach in the Twin Cities. He was a certified personal trainer, who opened a sports training academy in Eden Prairie where he often worked with NFL and NHL players.

"I've worked with everyone from five-year-olds to professional athletes," he said. "We also had a facility in Richfield where some of the retired Vikings would work out."

Bjornarra eventually looked to move north, and made his home in Pequot Lakes.

"I was doing some snowmobile stuff with Dave Guenther," he said of the Patriots' boys track coach. "He knew my background, and asked if I would be available to help the team."

Bjornarra joined the staff last season, and has be a valuable addition to the staff the past two years.

"It has been a perfect fit for me," he said. "The (track) coaches are enthusiastic and good role models. We also have had good numbers to build a winning program."

Bjornarra is also encouraged by the new track and field facility in Pequot Lakes.

"The community can be proud of the school and facility," he said of the recent school district building project. "It indicates that this community values education."