Maddie Preston has been a model of consistency for the Carson High track team this year, posting team-best marks in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, and qualifying for regionals in all three events.
As the Carson High sophomore competes in the long jump at Silverado High School in Las Vegas on the first day of the NIAA State Track & Field Championships today, she can add the title of Northern Nevada Girls Field Event Athlete of the Year to her impressive list of credentials.
“It’s exciting,” Preston said when she learned the news earlier this week. “I didn’t expect. I didn’t even know they had that kind of award. To get it over all the girls who throw (weight events), vault and jump is great. I think I did a lot better this year.
“It’s a great honor,” Carson coach Robert Maw said. “She’s improved by three feet this year which is exceptional. She came in lean and mean this year. She was a lot more prepared this year; in better shape.”
Preston qualified for state in two events — the triple jump (36-6 3/4) and the long jump (17-0 1/4). Both marks came last week at regionals, and both were personal bests. She is seeded second in the triple jump behind Silverado’s Jasmyn Garcia, who has a best of 38-feet this year. Preston is currently four inches behind Bishop Gorman freshman Vashti Cunningham, who has jumped 17-4 in the long jump.
Preston’s best shot at a medal, at least on paper, appears to be the triple jump.
“I’d like to get to 37 feet for sure in the triple jump,” Preston said. “I know there is a girl that has jumped 38. I need to be more aggressive. I think I can go longer.”
Preston had several jumps over 35-feet, and more importantly, didn’t foul once.
Preston is confident, and that’s key going into a big meet. She is showing no signs of butterflies being on the big stage.
“She is as cool as a cucumber,” Maw said. “She doesn’t react to things. She stays on an even keel, and that helps her.
“Both Aarik (Wilson, 2008 Olympian) and I believe she has a 38-foot jump in her. She needs to be more aggressive on the board and attack the jump.”
Wilson, who went to Fallon High and then the University of Indiana, has been working with the triple jumpers for approximately a month, and Maw is glad for the extra help and expertise. He knows that Wilson brings instant respect because of what he’s accomplished. Maw works with several groups of athletes, and as head coach, gets spread too thin at times. With Wilson there several times a week, the jumpers get plenty of attention. The nice thing about Wilson is that he coaches while keeping things loose.
Maw admitted that he was surprised that Preston made state in the long jump, because that is usually the weakest of the three events. After Preston uncorked a PR last week, Maw now believes that Preston can medal (top four) in the long jump and possibly win the triple.
Wilson’s grandmother lives in Carson, and in fact lives on the same street as the Prestons, who adopted Maddie when she was three days old. That’s how he got involved coaching Preston, Elena Thurman and Asa Carter, Carson’s top jumpers. He hopes to continue in the same role next year.
“They have known each other for 30 years,” Wilson said of Preston’s parents. “My grandparents stay in touch with them all the time. Maddie’s progress would always come up in conversation. I’m just happy to help as much as possible. Maddie got invited to a meet in New Mexico, and I’m going to help get her ready for that.
“Maddie is going to jump as far as she wants to jump. She’s a great athlete. It’s just a matter of putting a good jump together. I have a lot of confidence with her and with Asa as well.”
Preston is certainly happy to have Wilson’s expertise.
“Having Aarik there helps me out a lot. He’s helped me a lot this year. He’s worked with me a lot on technique; running through the jump and not getting too airborne,” Preston said.
Preston is not quite as confident in the long jump, but she’s hoping to go 17 again or even 18 in the long jump.
“There are a lot of girls in the field who have jumped 17,” Preston said. “I’d like to go at least 17 again, but I think I can go 18.”