NEW FRANKLIN Big life moments are happening at fast rate for Manchester senior track standout Alyssa Matheny.
The three-time state high jump qualifier inked a letter of intent to attend Kent State on Tuesday, will begin her quest for a fourth straight trip to the state meet Thursday and will graduate in a matter of weeks.
Needless to say, she’s got a lot on her plate, not the least of which is her quest to reach the top of the podium in Columbus next month at the OHSAA Division II state meet.
'I entered the season with some pretty big goals," Matheny said. "First, my ultimate goal is the win the state championship in the high jump. I would also like to compete in the long jump, and place."
Matheny placed 15th at the state meet in the high jump as both a freshman and sophomore and also competed at the state in the long jump a year ago, but did not place. Her best finish in Columbus came as a junior, when she soared to a third-place result in her signature event.
Reaching the podium would be a validating experience for most athletes, but Matheny has a different view. The four-year letterwinner feels that she has unfinished business and she hopes to take care of that business in the upcoming weeks as she begins in what she hopes is another long postseason run.
Based on the regular season, Matheny hasn't lost a step from a year ago. She is unbeaten in high jump competition, including titles at the Optimist Meet at Austintown Fitch and the Wildcat Invitational at Mogadore in addition to leading the Panthers in scoring with more than 175 points.
"I've been working hard to increase my jumping height. I'm pretty happy with how my season has gone so far. I'm undefeated in the high jump with not the best weather,” Matheny said. “With some nicer, warmer weather going out, and some stronger competition, I feel that I can do even better and set a new record in the high jump."
The senior competes in three events, with the 100 hurdles alongside the two jumping events. She currently holds two school records, including the high jump (5’7.25”) and the long jump (16’9.25”), the latter mark set this week in a meet against Indian Valley.
Veteran head coach Steve Schaadt has seen Mathney progress steadily over the past four years and wants her to stay in the moment as her senior season winds down.
"Alyssa is performing as well at long jump as high jump," Schaadt said. "She broke the long jump record again this week. She did extremely well at the Optimist Meet jumping in 42-degree (weather) and rain. We are taking one meet at a time with the goal of having the top spot in Columbus."
In the offseason, Matheny works to hone her skills at indoor meets and clinics throughout the area, including at the University of Akron, Kent State and Youngstown State. Competing in indoor meets served as good preparation for the outdoor season, Matheny noted, and her family has also played a big role in her success.
"My family has been a huge influence on me," she said. "I have two older sisters that both ran track in college, Christina (Wingate), and Kayla (Muskingum). My dad is has always been there for me supporting me and keep me updated about my competition. Coach (Steve) Schaadt has also been me with every step of the way."
The postseason begins Thursday with the Division II sectional meet at Bedford High School. It’s the first step, both literally and figuratively, of what Matheny, her coaches and family hope will be a trek to the top spot on the podium at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the Ohio State University campus next month.