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The Antelope

High jumper driven for success in final season

UNK’s Brayden Sorensen stands at the top of the podium after capturing his third MIAA high jump title last month. Courtesy Photo

Three-time All-American high jumper Brayden Sorensen is no stranger to victory. The redshirt senior has etched his name into UNK record books, holding both the indoor and outdoor records in the high jump.

Even with all the success, Sorensen is motivated to achieve more at the collegiate level and compete professionally.

“Last year, I was the first person out of getting a medal at the USA National Championships,” Sorensen said. “I was actually the alternate for the Pan Am Games, making me the first person out again. Wearing a USA jersey and competing internationally is a huge goal of mine.”

High jumping runs in Sorensen’s DNA. His father Boyd won a gold medal as a high jumper, competing for Shelton High School. Boyd went on to jump at Kearney State College.

“I got into jumping because I saw everything that my dad did,” Sorensen said. “I wanted to beat all of his records.”

Sorensen only started jumping in eighth grade but by the time he was a junior at Kearney High, he was one of the best in the state. After finishing sixth at the state championships by clearing 6’4” as a junior, Sorensen had high expectations for his senior season.

His goals were to break his dad’s record jump of 6’8” and Kearney High’s record of 6’9”. A left-foot injury plagued Sorensen all season and he was never able to reach those heights.

Sorensen followed in his dad’s footsteps and committed to UNK for track and field. He took the entire summer off before his freshman year to let his foot heal. 

Even after his foot was fully healed, Sorensen still had trouble jumping on it. He was just a “little, scared freshman” but asked his coach if he could switch his approach to the opposite side, allowing him to jump off of his left foot.

“I’m just glad he let me switch to the other side,” Sorensen said. “Within three months I was jumping 6-8. Everything just clicked from there.”

Since then, Sorensen has set both the indoor and outdoor school records with jumps of 7’2.25” and 7’1.75”, respectively. He ranks sixth in NCAA Division II and first in the MIAA this season. 

Most recently, he placed first at the 2024 MIAA Indoor Championships in Topeka, Kansas, with a jump of 6’11.75”. Sorensen is one of only three Loper men to win three MIAA indoor titles.

He will compete next at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 9, in Pittsburg, Kansas. 

Sorensen plans on graduating this May with a degree in business management. After the conclusion of the outdoor season, he remain training for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials. Following that, Sorensen plans to get into coaching.

“I want to be able to give back to athletes that have the same sort of drive to succeed in track and field that I do,” Sorensen said. “The feeling of achieving some of the things I’ve achieved is great, but for me to coach someone to a high level would feel even better.”

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