Wadena-Deer Creek track and field standout Mikaela Malone signed a Letter of Intent to compete in track & field at Bemidji State University (BSU) this fall.

Malone said she is looking forward to being a sprinter and long jumper on the Division II track and field team.

“I’ve been running meets there (BSU) since I was in 8th grade. It feels like home. I love the coaches and the team atmosphere. It’s going to be a lot of fun next year,” said Malone at her signing on Nov. 11 at the Epicenter Church in Wadena, where she was surrounded by most of her immediate family.

Malone is WDC’s record holder in the long jump at 17’5.5" and sits No. 2 in the school record book in the 100 meter dash at 12.55 seconds. As a freshman, she finished in eighth place at 2018 Class A State Meet in the 100-meter dash and as a sophomore, she returned to the Class A State Meet, where she placed 10th in the long jump. She was the 2018 Section 6A Champion in the 100 meter dash, the 2019 Section 6A Champion in the long jump and the 2019 Section 6A runner-up in the 100 meter dash.

Wadena-Deer Creek Track and Field Head Coach Marc Reynolds said when Malone joined the track and field program as an 8th grader, it was evident right away she was going to be something special.

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“Track and field was brand new to her, so she was a bit timid about some events. But as her confidence grew, she has evolved into an excellent sprinter and jumper for WDC — not just excellent, one of the best we’ve ever had come through WDC,” he said.

BSU Track and Field and Cross Country Head Coach Kevin Kean said Malone will be an excellent addition to the BSU family.

“Mikaela is one of the most talented sprint-and-jump combination athletes in our northern Minnesota area,” said Kean, who begins his sixth season as head coach for the cross country and track and field programs in 2020-21. “With Mikaela’s drive to be the best, our training groups will undoubtedly be pushed to great competition. Mikaela is a joy to be around and I can't wait to see her smiling on the podium in years to come.”

During her high school athletic career, Malone has also participated in basketball and wrestling. WDC Activities Director Norm Gallant said he is proud to see one of WDC’s multi-talented athletes move on to the collegiate level.

“Mikaela is a tremendous athlete. What she has done in the track and field arena speaks for itself. She is so explosive as a jumper and runner. A neat thing about her is she is an athlete who is also breaking barriers as WDC’s second female high school wrestler. She has that same grit and determination she takes to the track that’s served her well on the mat. I look forward to seeing what she can accomplish at Bemidji State,” Gallant said.

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference is one of the top conferences in the country at the Division II level. BSU begins their track & field practice in the fall and by the middle of December their indoor meets kick off, where they compete against colleges like NDSU and Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Malone will be competing on the 4 x 100 relay, the 100 meters and the long jump. “I’m excited to get started,” Malone said.

This past spring, Malone was set to dedicate her high school track & field season to her Grandma Dolores, who passed away on Feb. 10, 2020 at the age of 97. “But that didn’t happen (due to the pandemic),” Malone said. At the signing this week, on the table sat Malone’s running shoes with handwritten hearts and reminders of her Grandma Dolores’ passing. Malone also wears her grandmother’s ring on a necklace around her neck. “She was one of my biggest supporters,” Malone said.

Malone plans to major in physical education and hopes to one day return to WDC to teach and coach, she said. She is the daughter of Ron and Eileen Malone of Wadena.