By Matt Stewart
SACO (ME) — North Middlesex has enjoyed a pretty strong reputation for elite high jumpers during the past couple of seasons, and this outdoor track campaign in no different.
Patriot senior Kyle Monahan entered Saturday’s New England championship meet in Saco, Maine, as one of the top-10 jumpers in the region and, with a little luck, found himself in third-place.
The competition was tough. The top seed for the meet boasts a qualifying height of 6 feet, 8 inches. That’s the same height that Monahan — who qualified with a leap of 6-4 at Saturday’s state championship — needs to set a school record.
Monahan will also compete in the New Balance national championships later this month in Greensboro, N.C.
“I’m all fired up about this chance,” Monahan said. “The hard work in practice has finally paid off. Making it to nationals is another accomplishment I’m really proud of. I’ve been really close to getting 6-8 in the last few weeks of the season.”
Monahan wrapped up his career in style, jumping 6-3 and finishing in a tie for third place in the high jump. Monahan jumped 6-6 earlier in the season at the Central/West championship, which was a personal best.
The heat played a factor in all the jumpers’ performances, as even those seeded higher than Monahan finished below their expected heights. Three athletes had seeds of 6-6 or higher, and the winning height ended up being 6-5.
“The heat always has something to do with it,” Monahan said. “Sitting down for so long on turf that radiates the heat, it hurt everybody, too. Everybody was in the same boat. I was excited today. To place third in New Englands is a phenomenal honor.”
Patriots jumping coach Chris Jarvis said, given the conditions, it was an even stronger performance by Monahan than his appearance at states.
“Overall he did really well,” Jarvis said. “He clipped 6-5 with his ankle. If he had just a little bit more speed to the bar, he would have had it. He made 6 feet on his first attempt, and then cleared 6-3 on his first attempt. This is only his second season jumping, and I certainly think he can make an impact if he chooses to compete at the next level.”
Monahan is the second prolific jumper in just the last two seasons at North Middlesex, as he apprenticed under alumnus Neil Maskalenko, who, just like Monahan, was a Mid-Wach champion and a Central/West district champion.
“I’ve learned a lot from Neil and always wanted to be as good as him, even last year,” Monahan said. “He won every single meet, but couldn’t go to states because he hurt himself.
I always looked up to him for the all the medals he got.”
The high jump dominance continued into this season, as Monahan improved from a 6-2 jumper as a junior into a 6-6 jumper this season. He won every meet he participated in leading up to the state meet, where he placed third.Monahan gives a lot of credit to high jumping coach Chris Jarvis for helping him get to the next level, along with the support of his jumping crew teammates.
“It’s nice having a good high jump team,” Monahan said.
“Even this year we have a good one with Will Hitchins, Anton Dotson, Jerry Thompson. We had a good squad going. I couldn’t have done this without the hard work coach Jarvis put in coaching.”
Monahan’s rise is all the more impressive, given that he only has two year’s experience on the team, joining his junior season at the last minute and sticking with it.
“His progress has been incredible,” North Middlesex coach Suzanne Williams said. “He doesn’t even have a training age of a year yet, he’s still in the infancy of learning the event, having done it for less than five months total between the two seasons.
He could easily be a 7-feet or higher collegiate jumper. He has the physical talent and he’s extremely coachable. He’s a coach’s dream.”
Monahan has yet to make a decision about where he will be going to college. During the summer he works full-time hours doing landscaping, and wants to pursue a degree in fire science, with the goal of becoming a firefighter.