Mike Erwin, age 70 and former Moose Lake Laker, and Jon Evenson, recent graduate of Moose Lake High School, may be separated by 52 years, but they are connected in the sands of the long jump pit.
Erwin, who held the record since 1962 in what was then known as the broad jump at 20 feet, 111/8 inches, and Evenson, who just improved his new school record to 21-5, met and had a chance for a photo-op and a chat as they were put in touch with each other by Erwin's friend, Bill Kruse. They met at Gamper's, Moose Lake, on Tuesday, June 3.
Erwin was a speedy athlete, but did not like track. "I hated track," admitted Erwin. "I did not like to run. I was always made to run the 200 (yard dash) and I hated that race. I did do a 10.8 in the 100-yard dash and the school record was 10.4. I did have a couple of other jumps around 20 feet. I did the 20-117/8 at the Regionals. Football was my favorite sport. I played end on both sides of the ball. We had a linebacker, Dominick Jurek, who was tough as nails. I remember that one team had a guard who was about 320 pounds. I played next to Dean Paulson as a sophomore and he tried to teach me how to cross block, but I just bounced off that big guy. I was recruited to play football in college, but we didn't have the money and I went into the Army where I played basketball and tag football."
Evenson, who also qualified in the 100-meter dash by winning the short race and anchored the qualifying second-place 4x200-meter relay team, talked about some of his likes and memories. "Football was also my favorite sport," said Evenson, who also is tied with other former Rebels as a member of the 1,300-Pound Club. "I was a linebacker and I liked that," said Evenson, who also was a Rebels running back.
"I'll be playing middle linebacker at UMD as a recruited walk-on, but there is no scholarship. It probably would have taken a long jump of 22 feet-plus to have gotten a look as a jumper. I remember my first ever long jump as a freshman was 17-7, but I was able to do 20-7 in the 10th grade and started realizing breaking that 52-year-old school record was possible and I really wanted to break that to close out my high school career and to go to the state meet and do well."
"Jon's the man now," stated Erwin. "He's such a nice young man. I starting watching the Duluth News and the Star-Gazette a couple of years ago when my old record became 50 years old. Records are made to be broken. I have lived in Las Vegas for 21 or 22 years and I just renewed my subscription to the Star-Gazette. It was a pleasure to meet Jon and I'm glad Bill Kruse got us connected. I wish Jon the best of luck at state and that 22-foot jump is out there."
Evenson expressed his thanks for the surprise opportunity to meet former record-holder Erwin. "It was great to meet the guy who held the record for so many years and I hope to shoot for that 22-foot jump at state."