It will be more than two years since Jack Herkert has competed in a track and field meet the next time he steps on the track for Stanford University.
Injuries have derailed Herkert’s career so far at Stanford. Despite battling tendinitis in his knees, the junior ranks fourth in program history in the heptathlon (4,420 points) and ninth all-time in the high jump (6 feet, 10 1/4 inches).
Herkert is one of three brothers who have excelled in college athletics and had to deal with the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic canceling their spring sports season.
Max Herkert, a 2019 Verona Area High School graduate, is a member of the University of Wisconsin men’s track and field team. His oldest brother, Sam Herkert, is a member of the lacrosse team at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.
Jack, a 2017 VAHS graduate, was a two-time Division 1 high jump state champion, clearing 6-8 to win the gold medal as a junior and senior. He said he may have over-trained early in his college career, which led to jumper’s knee.
As a freshman in 2018, Jack Herkert finished seventh in the heptathlon at the MPSF Championships (4,420). He took eighth in the decathlon at the Pac-12 Outdoor Championships before his battle with tendinitis.
Jack Herkert skipped Stanford’s 2020 indoor season, but planned to return for the outdoor season. Now he will have at least eight more months to build up strength and recover after the NCAA on March 12 canceled remaining winter and spring championships.
“It’s been really hard jumping,” he said. “Last year, I had no clue when I would be healthy again. I was scared I wouldn’t be back to full health this spring.
Jack has leaned on Max in his recovery. The two brothers are lifting weights, running and playing basketball in between online classes.
“It was really competitive growing up,” Jack said. “If I stay in shape, I will be in the best shape of my life next year.”
Max Herkert competed as a heptathlete in his first indoor season for the Badgers. On Jan. 17, He finished 17th in the long jump (19-8 1/4) and 22nd in the 60-meter hurdles (9.02) at Iowa’s Larry Wieczonek Invitational. He placed seventh in the 60 hurdles (8.75) and seventh in the pole vault (13-5 1/4) at the Northern Iowa’s Jack Jennett Open on Jan. 24. A week later, he took fifth in the heptathlon (4,546) at Minnesota’s Jack Johnson Classic.
“It’s a huge benefit having Jack around,” Max said. “He told me to do my best and that I wouldn’t win many meets.”
Max Herkert, who finished sixth in the pole vault and eighth in the high jump at last year’s Division 1 state meet, said he was going to redshirt his first outdoor season at UW.
“It was a shock and bummer,” he said. “It didn’t hit me as hard as it did some others. I really felt bad for the seniors. It will definitely be a year to remember.”
Max Herkert said the collegiate indoor season is a lot longer than the high school season. He changed his technique to build more speed into his approach in the high jump and worked on honing some finer details in the pole vault.
“I had to relearn how to pole vault,” he said. “I did a lot more technical work to carry my momentum from the jump.”
Unlike Jack and Max, Shane Herkert’s collegiate career came to an abrupt close.
He started all six games this season for the Fighting Scots, who started strong with a 4-2 record. Four of his 11 shots on goal found the back of the net.