Cousins Isaacson, McGlynn go head-to-head in high jump

Submitted by Gregory Isaacson
Karsten Isaacson (left) and Zach McGlynn (right)

A friendly competition is arising in northwestern Minnesota between two high-jump athletes in high school track and field this spring. Karsten Isaacson, senior at Crookston High School and Zach McGlynn, senior at Stephen-Argyle Central High School go head-to-head at track meets to see who can jump higher. Two years ago Karsten took first at sub-sections. Since then, Zach has grown more than a few inches and took first place at a meet on April 22, 2021. Through the years they have met both on the court and off at basketball games, community events, and track meets. 

The interesting fact is they share a common genealogy. Their long and lanky bodies which work well for high jumps are similar to shared ancestors, Elias and Lavinia Isakson who settled in Caribou Township in Kittson County, MN in 1903. Karsten is a great-great grandson and Zach is a great-great-great grandson (that makes them third cousins, once removed). 

The families have always been close throughout the years. Through immigration papers the spelling of the name changed to Isaacson. Elias and Lavinia had four children who settled in Lancaster, Minnesota. They had a son Isaac Isaacson who married Signe Hanson (Karsten’s great-grands) and was a mechanic in town. Isaac’s sister Isabelle married Ernest Ingebretson (Zach’s great-great grands) who was the Soo Line Depot Agent in Lancaster and they had four children including daughter Gerane who married a local farmer Hubert Nelson (Zach’s great grands). 

Isaac and Signe had five children including Laverne Isaacson who worked for Gerane and Hubert on the farm.  Laverne would sometimes have to watch Gerane and Hubert’s five children which included Barbara who later married Kenneth Peterson (Zach’s grandparents) and they became teachers in the Lancaster School. Barbara and Kenneth had three children including Melanie who married Steve McGlynn (Zach’s parents) from Stephen, MN where they currently farm and Melanie is a teacher in the Stephen-Argyle school. 

Karsten Isaacson won the high jump at Tuesday's Pirate Invitational in East Grand Forks.

Laverne Isaacson married Patricia Hubbard (Karsten’s grandparents) and they started farming east of Lancaster in 1962 where they raised their two children which included Karsten’s father Gregory Isaacson. Most of the above-named individuals graduated from Lancaster High School and were members of Sion Lutheran Church in Lancaster which is known for their summer Smorgasbord and fall lutefisk dinner.  Gregory married Kristen Gunderson (Karsten’s parents) and they now live in Crookston, MN where he serves as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. 

Track meets this spring are a bit of a family reunion with many stories told that span the generations. As for the high jumpers? They’ll be competing all spring leading up to the subsection finals. Both graduate the same weekend in May. Karsten will be attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for a degree in engineering. Zach will be attending North Dakota State University for a degree in Crop and Weed Science. 

So far this season, the relatives have split with each other. McGlynn jumped five feet, eight inches to take first place at Thursday's invitational in East Grand Forks, with Isaacson taking third. However, Isaacson got the better of McGlynn in Tuesday's Pirate Invitational with a jump of 5'10", while McGlynn placed third.

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