Despite not winning a state championship during his career at Fort Campbell, senior jumper Austin Keeling doesn't have much to hold his head about during multiple trips to the state tournament.
Overall, Keeling has won eight medals at the KHSAA Class 2A State Track & Field Championships, including three Friday.
Keeling finished second in the high jump, fourth in the triple jump and eighth in the long jump, his least favorite event.
During the long jump, he battled against Doryon Hall, his Falcon teammate. Hall edged him in their final jumping event as he finished third overall.
"I give Doryon a lot of tips and I help him out a lot because he's got a lot of potential," Keeling said. "When we do go to meets and jump together, it's always cool, watching somebody else succeed."
Doryon agreed with his fellow senior and said it's not a sinister rivalry.
"Strictly friendly," Hall said. "We've been at school talking about this all the time. Trying to make each other better at practice. When's he's long jumping, triple jumping and high jumping, I'm there to push him. When I'm long jumping, he's there to push me and he's made me better as a person as well.
"He always makes sure I keep my head on my shoulders and stay in focus and the overall goal is to be the best we can be as a team."
Keeling has been to state several times and he admitted he knew he'd be successful in high school and after winning eight medals in his career, he knows he's better than most.
"I thought it was possible, I didn't know how possible it was," he said. "I didn't win a state championship, but I think a lot of the
See Falcons/Page B3
jumpers, especially in the high jump that I've lost to, natural, the ability to jump and the ability to get that high, I don't think anyone can really challenge me."
Fellow Falcon Jahlyn Mincey didn't do as well as she hoped Friday, but the Fort Campbell sophomore admitted she's come a long way in a short amount of time.
Mincey started as an eighth grader and has grown into a leader for the Lady Falcons.
"It just shows me the more work that I put in and the more I see myself going to greater places and I just enjoy seeing my journey that I'm going through," she said. "My coach, people who have helped me all this time. I was nowhere close to how I am now my eighth-grade year. I honestly couldn't be happier with how I'm turning out. It's not all about who gets the fastest time or who gets the first place medal, it's just about enjoying yourself and your own personal journey."
Although excelling in the sport, Mincey said she once asked one question that most watching track have had in their mind.
"When I came into track and field, I was like 'who runs on their own person time,' " she said. "The more you get into the sport you start to understand what it's about. The more you see the passion that other people have for it and the love you start to gain for it. Honestly, track has become my favorite sport ever. It's a little tiring at times but, just to come and showcase all your skills in front of a huge crowd like this is probably the best part."
Trigg County's Jaquellus Martin had the lone podium finish for the Wildcats Friday when he took fifth in the 200-meter dash.
Martin's time is the second fastest in program history and he's the first Wildcat in several years to medal.
Leading up to the state meet, Martin had a countdown going on his phone. He said he's been waiting for this moment for a while.
"I've been looking forward to it since I first started," he said. "I always knew if I worked hard during practice and I just give leave it out on the track, I'd be successful here."
Martin said he hopes to join an AAU track team this summer to hone his skills.
The Wildcat sophomore said there's a key formula for getting to where you want to go in track.
"Put in your blood, sweat, tears and throw up ... you'll be successful," he said.
Martin's coach Matt McMain had several younger athletes competing Friday and he said that's a good sign for the future of the program.
"I think it's big moving forward that we've (got) a lot of kids that it's their second year in a row qualifying," he said. "We've really done a better job this year ... I think it's a really good experience. "
McMain said with how many they sent to state, it shows they're progressing and will soon be able to compete with some of the top teams in the region.
"Last year, I think our kids kind of treated it like a vacation or a field trip," he said. "This year they've been much more serious about getting to bed on time, warming up properly. I think the experience that goes along with it is invaluable."
While most competitors wrapped up their day, the 4x400-meter relay participants will have to come back today to finish their race. Severe weather suspended the final race and it will now take place at 9 a.m. today prior to the 3A state final.
Action for the 3A final starts at 10 a.m.