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LEXINGTON — Even with a hamstring that that is at 80 percent strength, Kenton’s Maty Mauk proved to be better than most athletes that are at full-strength on Thursday.
Jumping on a leg that is still not fully-healed after being injured early in the season, the Wildcat senior got stronger on five of his six attempts, leaping 22-0 1/2 on his final attempt to finished second in the long jump on the first day of Division II regional competition at Lexington.
Mauk, who had taken just eight jumps the entire season entering the competition, with five of those coming in the first week, qualified for next week’s Division II state track meet in Columbus with his finish.
The top four competitors in each event advance to the state meet.
When he jumps next Friday, it will be the fourth straight year Mauk has competed in Columbus. He finished third last year and was on Wildcat relay teams his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Orrville’s Stewart Turner Jr. won the event with a leap of 22-5 1/2.
Mauk, who went 20-2 3/4 on his first attempt, went 21-1 1/2 on his second attempt to qualify for the finals with the third best leap.
He passed Eastwood’s Devin Snowden on his second jump of the finals and traded spots with Bath’s Blake Van Force twice before his final jump propelled the Kenton senior into second.
Mauk, who had taken only one jump in each of the past two weeks as he tries to heal from a hamstring injury suffered early in the season, said he knew he needed a good jump on his last attempt.
“The last one I was sitting fourth and then I when I went over 22-0 it felt pretty good,” the KHS senior said. “It’s exciting to know that I’m still going (to state). I have a week and a day to try and get healed up for next week, so I’m feeling pretty good about it.”
Also placing for the Wildcats on the first day of the meet was senior Gabe King in the discus. King finished in sixth with a toss of 142-9.
King will get another chance to try and get to the state meet when he and teammate Nathan Hicks compete in the shot put on Saturday morning.
Also for the KHS boys, Lance Taylor made the finals in the 400 dash, qualifying for Saturday with a time of 51.76 seconds, which was the sixth best in the prelims.
The Lady Wildcat quartet of Terrill Webb, Audrey Miller, Brooke Bostelman and Terrill Webb also had a successful first day at the regional meet, advancing to the finals in both events they competed in.
In the 400 relay, they won their heat in 50.70 seconds and enter the finals running in lane five with the second fastest time.
In the 1,600 relay, the Lady Wildcats were fifth in the first heat with a time of 4:09.83, but were the eighth fastest overall to make it into the finals.
Webb will also participate in the pole vault on Saturday.
The meet continues on Saturday, with the field events beginning at 11:30 a.m. and the running finals starting at 12:30 p.m.
By KENDRICK JESIONOWSKI
Times sports editor