DES MOINES - The weight of the world was lifted off Marcus Mechaelsen's shoulders just 15 seconds after he stepped onto the long jump runway.
For the rest of the afternoon the Northeast Hamilton senior was able to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
Mechaelsen ripped off a career-best leap of 21 feet, 10 inches on his first attempt in the Class 1A long jump competition yesterday, and the measurement held up until the very end as he placed fourth to earn his first medal at the Iowa Co-ed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
NEH senior Marcus Mechaelsen splashes down with his career-best jump of 21 feet, 10 inches and he went on to place fourth in Class 1A yesterday at the state meet in Des Moines.
"My goal was to be in the top five and I did that," Mechaelsen said. "I knew that, realistically, I probably wasn't going to win, but I knew I had a pretty good shot at placing."
Four of Mechaelsen's six attempts surpassed 21 feet, including all three of his preliminary-round leaps. But it would have taken a jump of 22-4 to crack the top three.
It was that first splash landing that made the difference.
"Sometimes it's mental for me. If I have a good first jump then I do pretty well, so I'm glad I got that jump off right away," Mechaelsen said. "After that I just gave it everything I've got."
Mechaelsen was a state qualifier as a freshman, and in April he competed in the Drake Relays.
Manson-Northwest Webster junior Josh Markert seized the gold medal with a field-best leap of 22-6.
Mechaelsen will sit back and watch his teammates work today. Classmates Clay Harreld (high jump) and Bryce Kauffman (110-meter high hurdles) will compete as individuals and on the Trojans' 1,600 medley relay alongside Stephen Chamness and Tyler Smith.