Aptos High senior Hunter Matys made his trip to the CIF State Track and Field Championships a memorable one by medaling in the long jump event on Saturday.
Matys placed sixth with a leap of 22-feet, 10.75-inches, which made him the only athlete from Santa Cruz County to place at the state meet this year.
Matys said it was an incredible experience to reach the biggest stage in California for the track and field championships.
“It was amazing to be able to perform at such a high level in front of a big crowd of people,” he said.
Matys qualified third in last week’s preliminary round. He started near the end of the heat on Saturday and jumped 22-10.75, which put him at the top of the leaderboard.
But, California High senior Jordan Aubert followed up with a jump of 23-0.5.
Matys said he was impressed with all the other great athletes competing, especially those who might be worthy of going to the Olympics some day.
“They’re just like 10 times better than me and it’s insane just seeing that,” he said.
Matys said it was a blast being around other elite athletes, especially because he loves to compete.
“Just to be able to have other people pushing me to do my best was just amazing,” he said.
Matys said he re-strained a groin pull on his second jump, which he’d suffered Monday while practicing for the state meet. He spent most of Friday night and all of Saturday morning trying to nurse the injury.
Matys got three more jump attempts and made the cut into the top nine, but it wasn’t quite close to his opening mark.
Matys had already set a personal record of 23-3.75, which was the school record when he jumped it at the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League Finals.
“I could’ve done better but just knowing that I’m in the top-six in the state of California in the long jump is just amazing,” Matys said.
Aptos High senior Hunter Matys won a Central Coast Section Division III football title and placed sixth at the CIF State Track and Field Championships. (Juan Reyes — Register-Pajaronian)
Aptos track and field coach Zach Hewett said it’s been incredible to watch Matys build his athletic resume at the school.
Matys was part of the this year’s Mariners football team that won the CCS Division III championship and first team from Santa Cruz County to compete in the NorCal State playoffs.
Matys was also part of the basketball team that played in the CCS D-III Finals against Monterey and a trip to the NorCal D-IV State playoffs.
“As far as I know, he’s the only athlete that’s ever advanced to the state level playoffs in three sports,” Hewett said. “It’s really incredible just everything that he’s done in his time at Aptos High.”
Hewett said Matys was in his freshmen P.E. class and since then noticed how freakishly of an athlete he already was. He did it all from playing basketball on the blacktop to kicking soccer balls halfway across the field.
Hewett pictured Matys as the next great high jumper for the Mariners but said there was something about the event that didn’t click for him.
“Then he ran the 100 (meter) just kind of on a limb and absolutely smoked the race,” Hewett said.
Matys now holds the school record in the 100 after setting the mark in 10.73 seconds, which was slightly faster than the previous record of 11 seconds flat last set by Jesse Samples in 2003.
Matys also holds the record in the 200 (22.00), 4x100 relay race (43.53) and now in the long jump.
Aptos High senior Hunter Matys won the long jump event at this year's Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League boys track and field championships at Harbor High. (Juan Ryes – Register-Pajaronian)
Matys said the record he’s most proud of breaking was the 100 and the hardest one was the 200 just because he’s not used the longer sprint.
Still, he’s stoked to be able to have his name on the walls of the gymnasium that he believes should stand for a while.
“It feels really good just to hold (the records) because some of them have stood for a while,” Matys said. “Just to have three individual and a team one is just amazing.”
Matys now has to make one of the biggest decisions of his young athletic career. He has offers to attend UC Davis or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he plans to continue his track career and pursue a degree in computer science.
Matys said he’s still up in the air but wouldn’t mind going to either school because they both have great track and field programs.
“I’m just looking forward to a new atmosphere,” he said. “High school is great and everything but it gets old sometimes. Going somewhere new and meeting new people, that’s just gonna be a great experience.”
Editor's Note: This article will be published in the May 31 edition of the Register-Pajaronian.