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This article was published 8/6/2019 (391 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Preston Kull may be smaller than the average high jumper, but the Murdoch MacKay Collegiate student was flying high in Friday’s varsity boys provincial high jump finals at the University of Manitoba.
The Grade 12 student took home gold by clearing 1.89 metres — about 6-2 — despite measuring in at just 5-7.
"For tall athletes, their centre of mass is taller, so it’s easier to get over the bar, you just have to jump higher the shorter you are. There’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to keep training hard."
And train hard he does. This isn’t the first time Kull has tasted gold. The teen also won it all in provincials two years ago, while competing in high jump as a junior-varsity athlete. The 18-year-old now plays multiple sports for his high school and also trains four times a week with the Winnipeg Optimist Athletics track club.
Kull’s high school coach, Edward Pieczonka, hadn’t seen Kull jump too much prior to provincials, so he was ecstatic with Friday’s performance.
"He looked really, really good," Pieczonka said. "He had a great performance, looked clean and confident."
Pieczonka brushed off the teen’s height, saying it’s Kull’s natural athletic ability and hard work that have him jumping to new heights.
"He has to maximize his strength and power, but he’s a pretty strong kid. He’s got a lot of lean muscle, which helps, and consistently shows how dedicated he is to his training," Pieczonka said.
Outside of track, Kull also plays football, soccer and rugby for Murdoch MacKay. In December, he was named his high school football team’s offensive player of the year.
"All those sports, it’s a lot of running and really helps with my conditioning for track," Kull said.
Looking ahead, Kull has his sights set on honing his skills in high jump. He’ll be competing in track for the University of Manitoba when he heads there for his first year of university this fall.
Though Kull was happy to take home the top medal Friday, he made it clear that winning isn’t always everything.
"My favourite part about track is the community. Everyone is just so supportive in high jump," he said.
Kull showcased that while watching his competitor, Daxx Turner, attempt the 1.92m jump. While Kull failed to clear the height on his third attempt, the Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute student had one more chance to clear the bar. Turner raised his hands above his head and began slowly clapping, prompting the rest of the crowd to join in. Rather than watching from afar, Kull was right in there, cheering on Turner as he attempted his final jump.
Turner also went on to miss his 1.92m attempt, taking home a respectable silver medal.
"It’s not like we’re not competitive — we are competitive," Kull said. "We’re just all really supportive, too."
In the varsity girls high jump, Natalie Gundrum took home the gold medal. The Prairie View High School student jumped 1.56m on Friday afternoon. Like Kull, Gundrum will head to the University of Manitoba in September and compete on the Bisons track team.
ON THE FIELD: 15-year-old Neepawa athlete Lara Denbow took only one hop, skip and jump to break the junior varsity girls provincial triple jump record. Denbow jumped 11.51 metres in Friday’s contest, breaking the 2014 record of 11.19 set by Murdoch MacKay’s Rebekah Eckert.
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