Newton junior Jackson Mace-Maynard started from the bottom and now he’s here.
Two years ago, Mace-Maynard did not have a top five 800-meter time on his own high school track team. The top time in 2019 was a 2:09.72.
But on the biggest stage, Mace-Maynard ran a blistering time of 1 minute, 58.45 seconds to finish fourth at the Drake Relays. Never had the Cardinal standout eclipsed a sub-2 minute 800 before.
“We didn’t go out very fast in that race so you have to be an intelligent racer, too,” Mace-Maynard said after the race. “That was one of the most tactical races I think I have ever run.”
So how did Mace-Maynard go from little-known freshman to a Drake Relays medalist in two years?
“The two biggest things that led to this breakthrough were effort and consistency,” Mace-Maynard said. “After swim season, I had about 10 weeks where I put my nose down and just started grinding. I pumped out a lot of 40 mile weeks. It was tough. It was stressful.
“I am grateful though. I always say just work your hardest, do your best in every race and God will take care of the rest.”
Newton’s boys track and field team did not have state qualifier in 2019 and there was no season at all in 2020. As we near the end of the 2021 campaign, the only question left to be answered is how many state qualifiers will the Cardinals have this spring?
Barring something very unexpected, Mace-Maynard will be a state qualifier in the 800. And the Cardinals’ 4x800 relay team is likely state bound. But Nate Maki has been impressive in sprints, Keith Moko has a strong shot to go in the high jump and there are a few other individuals and relays who could clinch spots in the Class 3A state meet next week.
The 4x800 relay team also was impressive at Drake. They started Newton’s big day with an eighth-place finish. Mace-Maynard ran an anchor split of 1:56 in that one.
“I always knew I had a 1:56 or 1:58 in me,” Mace-Maynard said. “The key for me is just getting into a fast field and run with other fast guys.”
Treycen Garton has turned a corner this season, too. His best open 800 time two years ago was 2:10.05. He ran a 2 flat split in his anchor leg of the distance medley relay earlier this season at the Newton Cardinal Invitational.
He’s expected to start that 4x800 relay when the Cardinals try to qualify for state on Thursday. The other two members are freshmen Cody Klein and junior Derek Beiner.
Both Klein and Beiner also start on the Newton boys soccer team. Beiner admitted during his Drake Relays interview after the 4x800 relay that he’s just out there doing his part to help the team.
Beiner is helping the team. And it’s a team which should compete for a 3A title at state. And as long as Beiner gives his best on that day, that’s all anyone can ask for.
Maki should make a run at state in sprinting events or maybe the distance medley depending on how coach Chad Garvis sets up his state-qualifying lineup.
The best 200 time for Newton two years ago was 24.16. His best sprint this year was 22.59, which currently ranks fifth in 3A.
Moko has a mark of 6 foot, 4 inches in the high jump. That qualified him for the Drake Relays. Moko has raw talent and ability. He admitted during his Relays interview that his form is not the best but on any given night he could make a run at the state title in 3A.
He got over the bar at 6-1 at Drake and jumped 6-2 at the Cardinals’ first home meet this spring.
The distance medley relay could be an event the Cardinals try to push through to state. The team of Maki, Jared Smith, Beiner and Garton ran a time at their home meet on Friday that currently ranks ninth in 3A.
The top eight finishers at state earn medals and score team points.
It’s hard to predict right now where Newton’s boys track team will stack up in the 3A team race at the state meet. What I do know is the Cardinals’ top guys also are some of the best guys in the class.
And that is always key when it comes to the team portion of the state meet.
Contact Troy Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org