The Northwestern College Track and Field program has found a diamond in the rough with high jumper, Matt Huseman. He is an academic sophomore, but only a freshman for high jumping eligibility. Huseman has followed a non-traditional path to phenomenal success as a high jumper, receiving All-American honors. This fall, he had no intentions of going out for the sport. For Huseman, it seems as though high jumping has always been a reduced priority.
Huseman’s focus has always been on basketball. He was on various traveling teams, even playing with the likes Tar Heel current Tar Heel Harrison Barnes. He attended East Sac Junior-Senior High School in Sac City, Iowa. During his junior year there, he was asked by the track and field coach to try out high jumping. Although it was halfway through the season, Huseman obliged. Little did he know that this tiny foothold would be the start of something much larger. With little more than raw talent, Huseman jumped an outstanding height of 6’6”, but skipped the
district competition to participate in a basketball tournament. “I could have qualified for state,” Huseman mused, “but I just didn’t take it that seriously that year.”
When his senior year rolled around, Huseman was not considering going out for high jumping due to a basketball related injury. “Somehow coach got me to go out again. The whole season this time,” Huseman laughed. Throughout the course of the season, he improved to a personal best of 6’7” and participated in the state tournament. Although it was not his best jump to date, Huseman jumped a height of 6’6” to win the high
jump state championship. Despite the success, Huseman was still focused on basketball, looking forward to his upcoming career with Northwestern College.
Huseman’s freshman year came and went. Huseman said, “My focus was on basketball, and I was worried that time would be a big problem if I went out for track as well.” He arrived back on campus for his sophomore year, still concentrating on basketball. When Huseman went home for
Christmas break, however, everything changed.
“It was actually my mom’s idea,” Huseman said, “due to my prior success, she asked if I’d thought about doing high jumping again.” Huseman
decided it was in his best interest to hang up his sneakers and grab his track spikes again. He talked with Coach Nate Wolf and began workouts as soon as he got back from Christmas break. Due to sporadic experiences with high jumping, Huseman had a hard time re-learning the muscle memory. As has always been the case though, his raw talent has shined through.
Two weeks after joining the team, Huseman won the Iowa State indoor invitational meet with a leap of 6’8,” which was a personal record. “When I first started the season, I was hoping to get back to my high school jump level. I never expected to be surpassing it,” reflected Huseman. That height also qualified Huseman to jump in the indoor national tournament over spring break, where he placed fifth with a jump of 6’8.75” in the event.
“I’ve learned not to be afraid to try something new, or go back to something old, I guess,” laughed Huseman, “If you really love doing something, put your time and energy into it.” From here, Huseman hopes to become an eight-time All-American, earning honors for both the indoor and outdoor seasons each year. He plans on coming back as a fifth-year senior to take advantage of his unused eligibility. Huseman’s focus has centered on high jumping, and he has set high goals for his future. He may never have planned it this way, but one thing is guaranteed: Huseman will continue to raise the bar.
Huseman and the other Raiders will compete in their first outdoor meet this Saturday in Sioux Falls.