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While his senior year of track hasn’t played out exactly how he felt it would, Kenton’s Maty Mauk still has a chance to reach his top goal coming into the season – getting back to the state track meet.
Despite only taking eight jumps the entire season, Mauk, who finished third in Division II as a junior last spring, was able to qualify for this week’s regional meet in Lexington meet in the long jump for the third time in four years.
It is the fourth straight year the senior has competed at Lexington, also taking part on relays and individual sprint events in the past.
But to say the season hasn’t gone as planned for Mauk may be an understatement.
After jumping over 22 feet in his first meet of the season, Mauk pulled a hamstring in the Wildcats second meet and has been hobbled ever since.
Mauk was unable to compete again until the WBL meet, where he took one jump and went 20-4, which was good enough to get him second place.
At the district meet, Mauk fouled on his first attempt before going 20-2 3/4 on his next attempt, which place him third and allowed him to move into regional competition.
The Wildcats senior said he is hoping to be closer to full strength on Thursday, noting that before the WBL meet the last time he really tried to do much was on March 27.
“After the first meet, jumping 22-8 or 22-10, I figured it would be a good year and then in the second meet right before I hit the board I tweaked the hamstring and then I took a couple weeks off.
“Then I came out here and tried to run and did a couple exchanges and on the third or fourth one I pulled it really bad. That was March 27 and today I still really haven’t sprinted at all. … Now going to regionals and only jumping twice the last two meets, it’s really exciting to get another chance.”
“Maty has an opportunity to be a four-time state qualifier,” KHS coach Chuck Downing said. “That would be a remarkable accomplishment to end his career. He’s been battling that injury-bug and that hamstring and we hope he’s healthy enough to be a state qualifier.”
Mauk said he feels the hamstring is improving and hopes it will allow him to get in a decent jump or two.
“I’m starting to feel a lot better and I’m starting to get up in the air a little bit,” he said. “It’s even feeling better than it was last week. After a couple of run throughs last night, I’m really excited about it. If I can pop out a 23-0 or something like that I’ll be really happy.
“Our goal has been to get one good jump in and be done, just so I can rest a little bit and be done. So if I can go out and get a high 22 on my first jump this week, I’ll take another week off and it’ll be state and hopefully I’ll be 100 percent by then.”
Mauk said he had aspirations of getting to state in several events at the beginning of the season, but it just wasn’t to be.
“At the beginning of the year I wanted to try and get to state in the 100, 200 and one of our relays, but obviously that didn’t happen because of the hamstring,” he said. “But I haven’t really been healthy since the beginning of football season, so just to know I’m going in one thing, I’m proud of it and looking forward to representing our school.”
Lance Taylor also will be representing the Wildcat boys in Lexington, competing in the 400 dash.
It’s been a long road to Lexington for Taylor, who just missed qualifying for the regional meet in each of his first three years of high school, finishing fifth in the district in the 800 as a freshman and sophomore and then fifth in the 400 dash as a junior.
Taylor, who finished fourth in the district meet last week with a time of 51.22 seconds to earn his trip to regionals, enters the meet with the ninth fastest time overall and the fifth fastest in his heat.
“It took me three years to get this far and a lot of hard work,” he said. “I knew this is my last year and I had to make it or else it’s done.”
Taylor noted he is peaking at the right time as well.
“I’m getting close to my best times,” he said. “I’m confident I can get under 50 this week. … I’m hoping to make it to Saturday’s finals, but I’m just going to run.”
“Lance finally broke a three-year jinx of getting out of the district tournament” Downing said. “We’ve finally got him to regional and we’re just hoping he can take that next step and get to state.”
Clyde’s Alex Turner ran a 49.58 last week to record the top time entering regional competition.
Also competing for Kenton will be Gabe King in the discus and shot put and Nathan Hicks in the shots put.
King goes into discus competition with the ninth best throw (147-01).
Hicks comes in with the seventh best throw in the shot put (51-6), while King’s throw (47-10 1/4) is the 10th best.
“Gabe King has an opportunity that if he qualifies to state this weekend he will have qualified to the state tournament in three different sports – football, wrestling and track and field – all in the same year What an amazing accomplishment that would be,” Downing said. “And Nathan Hicks, he spent four years working for this moment.”
The boys long jump, discus and running prelims will take place on Thursday beginning at 4 p.m., with the running finals and shot put at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
By KENDRICK JESIONOWSKI
Times sports editor