Jumping Towards Success
by Anne Dunham
Photography by Justin Eiler
Steele Senske is a 6-foot 3-inch sophomore from Park Christian High School who never thought he would compete in track and field. Little did he know, he would be standing on the podium at the Minnesota state track meet as a freshman.
“My mom pushed me to join track. I never thought I would enjoy running,” Steele says. “But when I joined track and field, I fell in love with it.”
Steele has listened to what it takes to be successful. He has outstanding role models in his life, which he hopes he can also become someday.
Following family footsteps
Steele’s mother, Sherry Senske, was an outstanding track and field athlete. She impressively high jumped at the NCAA nationals while attending Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
“My mom pushed me to do track,” the younger Steele says. “My parents have influenced me a lot, especially in high jump. They were both high school state high jump participants.”
Steele’s father, Steele J. Senske Sr., has always been Steele’s biggest fan. He played four impressive years of basketball at the University of Minnesota-Crookston and Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
“He has pushed me ever since I can remember,” Steele says. “We would play basketball outside for hours when I was younger. We would play one-on-one. I would get frustrated when he beat me.”
“As a young boy, Steele had a very keen desire to mimic body movements. He would absorb the mechanical kinetics from television, watching another athlete, or listening to a coach and replicating the movement. He would continue working until he could do it well. He has a very good spatial awareness that helps him in high jump,” Steele Sr. says.
Gary Senske, the junior Steele’s grandfather, is a huge role model when it comes to athletics.
“My grandpa is an outstanding coach,” Steele says. Steele has been guided through his grandfather’s records, hall of fame awards, coaching experience, and advice.
Steele’s older sister, Sierra also has the family genes.
“I have always looked up to my sister, too,” Steele says. Standing 6-foot 2 inches, she is currently playing post on the Bemidji State University women’s basketball team.
“I always followed her around to basketball tournaments. I learned a lot from her,” Steele says.
“Steele is always eager to spend time talking with his sister, they have a close relationship,” Steele Sr. says. Steele believes his 11-year-old brother, Sam, is going to be a key athlete for Park Christian when he grows up.
“He’s supposed to be a big boy,” Steele says.
“When Steele has time, he often spends it with Sam shooting hoops or tossing around a football or baseball. It is important to him,” Steele Sr. says.
Making the move to Park Christian
Steele transferred from Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton to Park Christian in 2014.
“I like small schools,” says Steele. “I have excelled in my academics at Park Christian.”
“School work takes up a lot of Steele’s time. He works very hard on his grades and is a good student,” Steele Sr. says.
Besides academics, there is no doubt that Steele is one of Park Christian’s most talented athletes.
He placed 8th at the Minnesota state track meet at Hamline University last spring. He also holds the Falcon’s school record for most points scored in a basketball game. Last December, he scored 41 points in a game against Fond du Lac breaking the previous record by 2 points.
To date, the state track meet has been Steele’s most memorable moment.
“I got to stand on the podium and was really excited about it,” he says.
“Steele was ranked 15th out of 16 jumpers. He jumped clean, and tied for eighth place. It was very exciting,” Steele Sr. says.
“I’m loaded with events for the conference meet,” Steele says. “My main goal this year is to jump 6-feet 4-inches.”
Steele is hoping to be back at Hamline University on June 10th, 2016 to repeat his state appearance. He is hoping to reach 6-feet 6-inches by his junior year. As a sophomore, Steele has plenty of time to work towards his goals.
“I am trying to shoot for the school record of 6-feet 5 1/4-inches by the time I am a senior,” Steele says.
Stretching, sprinting, watching tape, and having others give advice are just a few things that are helping Steele reach his goal.
“Steele has a great work ethic in the gym and weight room,” Steele Sr. says.
He has learned about work ethic from athletes like Zach and Connor Kvalvog.
Steele came to Park Christian High School as a stranger. The first person to take Steele in was Zach Kvalvog. Zach and his brother, Connor were tragically killed in a car accident on June 23, 2015.
“Zach took me in as a mother bird when I first came to Park Christian,” he says. He has found this year to be a difficult one without the brothers.
“We have gotten through difficult times as a team,” Steele says. “It is one of those things where we wish we could have them back on the court and track but we know they are in their place.”
“We have a “K” on our track and basketball jerseys to symbolize Kvalvog and to show our support for their parents, Ray and Kathie,” Steele says.
“Zach was our distance dude. He never quit,” says Steele. He will never forget breaking a school record with Zach.
“We broke the 4×4 record for our school together,” Steele says. “That is one thing I will always remember when I think about competing with Zach.”
“Zach and I always competed with each other in basketball too,” Steele says. “I always chose to be on the opposite practice team just so I could compete against him. Connor was the same way. They made me a better player. He pushed me to the limits. Ray was like that too; he always had us covered.”
“I think about Zach and Connor two or three times a day,” Steele says. “I appreciate what they did for me as an athlete and friend.”
Since Steele can remember, he has had a basketball in his hand. He has dreamed of playing college basketball since he was little. As a sophomore, Steele has his options open for college.
Steele would love to follow his family footsteps.
“I would love to stay close to home and play basketball in college,” Steele said. “I just want to go to a college and do what I can there. My dream is to play Division I but as long as I can go somewhere to play basketball, I don’t care where it is.”
Steele would not be where he is today without role models he has come across at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Park Christian. Michael Tollefson, a 2014 DGF graduate, gave Steele courage to jump.
“He was an outstanding jumper,” Steele says. “He helped me become the jumper I am today. We fed off each other’s knowledge.”
Megan Endreson, Jeremy Nelson, and Kurt Motschenbacher are a few of Steele’s support system. He gets great support from his Park Christian teammates, coaches, and friends.
“We couldn’t ask for a better program for our son,” Steele Sr. says.
Steele’s family, friends, and coaches know there is a fun-loving guy behind his competitive side.
“Steele likes to laugh. He has a quirky personality that shines through. He’s serious in competition but goofy outside the competitiveness. He makes things awfully fun and memorable,” Steele Sr. says. “He always goes out of his way to make sure others are taken care of.” FMSV