La Follette star Gessner on track for success - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

La Follette star Gessner on track for success

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Finn Gessner first got his jump in to athletics on the slopes.

"I became a ski jumper. I thought ski jumping was definitely going to be the biggest part of my future," Gessner says.

He started in the sport at age four. The La Follette junior later qualified for national ski jumping tournaments three straight years.

"How fast you got going. It's a great feeling," Gessner said.

But that need for sped led him down a different path in seventh grade after participating in a school run.

"My coach [La Follette track coach Brady Nichols] saw some potential. He sent me a letter and he said if I train with him, try as hard as I can, I could be a state champion."

The veteran coach immediately saw some potential in the ski jumper.

"He was super enthusiastic and was really into it. He asked a ton of questions. I said, 'Oh, this would be cool if he's so interested,'" Nichols said.

Gessner traded in his skis for some shoes and has been a full-time runner ever since.

"I thought running was the way to go. I just felt it, that it was going to be better for my future."

Gessner appears to have been right. Last October, he won the Division 1 state title in cross country. In tract, he currently holds the state's fastest time in the 3,200 meters.

"I think it's just that I'm a really competitive person. I just really hate to lose," Gessner said.

Last spring at the state championships in La Crosse, Gessner did lose in the 3,200 meters after leading most of the race.

"Remembering that loss and how they took it from me at the very end, I want to go back and try to do it again with a different result."

That disappointment is driving Gessner to push his limits this spring in hopes of chasing down the state's best. Ever since taking his leap of faith from ski jumping to running, Gessner has never looked back.

"I think it's just the self-accomplishment and just pushing yourself to the point that average people never do. I like that feeling the most."

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