ST. PAUL — It’s common in high school sports for one athlete to be so dominant that the rest of the field is playing for second place.
That was the case Saturday at the MSHSL state track and field meet at Hamline University. Minnehaha Academy senior Jonathan Webb captured first-place medals in the Class A 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, fulfilling a scenario that Cotter High School senior Colin Duellman thought was likely to happen.
“He had the fastest times for Class A boys all year, and so I knew about him,” Duellman said of Webb, who is headed to the University of Minnesota next year as a sprinter. “This is the first time I’ve raced against him, and he’s … fast. I’m disappointed, but I’m happy it was him who beat me and not somebody I’ve been beating all year.”
Duellman’s times in the 100 (11.39 seconds) and 200 (22.82) finals were good enough to earn second and fourth place, respectively. And after running his last high school race, Duellman agreed that his journey with Cotter track and field has been rewarding.
“I just wanted to come to state and run as hard as I could, and I pretty much did that,” Duellman said. “I’ve always wanted to win the 100, but this is still better than I would have ever thought. From my junior high days, I never thought I would come this far.”
What initially started for Duellman as a fun after-school activity with friends turned into a passion and produced two state medals. His first trip to the state meet was in 2014, when he finished seventh in the 100 with a time of 11.5 seconds.
This year, he ran an 11.05 twice early in the season, including to win the Hamline Elite Meet in late April. He came into the state meet as the top seed in the event, a reward for his years of hard work in the sport.
“I think I joined track and field because all my friends did in junior high,” Duellman said. “Then, after half the team quit, I kept doing it because I had fallen in love. I started seeing success in my sophomore year when I started winning races, and I thought, ‘whoa, I can actually do well in this.’ So yeah, I’m happy I did this.”
Coach David Jewison agreed that Duellman’s sophomore year was when he saw a turning point.
“When Colin was a sophomore, we had a discussion standing in the John Nett Recreation Center,” Jewison said. “He asked me what he needed to do to get the school record in the 100. So that conversation has carried on over the last several years, and I remember that first discussion. That was the big change for him.”
The hard work that Duellman put in over the last two years clearly paid off in a big way. He improved to the point where he not only beat Will Gibson’s 1996 school record of 11.14 seconds, he has surpassed it five times this spring. His time of 11 seconds flat from the Section 1A meet now stands as the top mark in the Cotter record books.
“Colin is the fastest kid I’ve coached,” said Jewison, who has coached various levels of track and field at Cotter for more than a decade. “When he first started, it was hard for him to finish 80 meters. But you saw him out there, he finished 200 meters. He’s so fast out of the blocks.”
Now that his high school athletics career is over, Duellman will join the Winona State football team this fall. And as long as he carries over the same kind of work ethic that he has proven on the track, Jewison sees Duellman as an impact college football player.
“College sports are hard, but I know he can put in the work,” Jewison said. “We’ve seen him do it. I think that’s the skill that will transfer over, the hard work.”