The only outside noise Matt York could hear were the cheers, and that wasn’t such a bad thing.
The Poland Regional High School senior jumper had elected to wear ear plugs during competition to keep out the noise. After being diagnosed with athletic induced asthma in the preseason, it not only allowed him to monitor his health but also allowed him to focus on the task at hand.
“After the Western Maine meet, I got a pair of ear plugs so I could tune everything out and regulate my heart beat,” said York. “I was keeping track of that a little more closely by being able to hear my own heart beat, and I’d only hear the really loud cheers.”
York would hear those cheers as he jumped his way to a state title in the high jump. After finishing third last year at six feet, he jumped 6-2 this year for the Class B state title. With his second-place finish in the long jump, he was a significant part of the Knights’ seventh-place finish in Class B.
“I knew he’d be able to do great, I just didn’t know how great,” said Poland coach Rick Kramer.
York was aiming high coming into this season. Ever since jumping his height — six feet — as a sophomore during the outdoor season, he was hoping to soar to new levels. With a shot at being one of the state’s best leapers this year, he wanted to make the most of his opportunity.
“I was hoping to do the best that I could during the indoor season and then really crank it up for the outdoor,” said York. “I set my goal for 6-4, and I was thinking that if I shoot high enough, maybe I’ll get it.”
York worked diligently over the course of the season to improve his mechanics. Gradually, he began to see improvement.
“I noticed that my jumping, the height itself was getting larger by a little bit,” he said. “Instead of jumping with a flat back, I started having a little more torque. My waist would get higher, and I’d be able to raise my butt a little more.”
Kramer could see York’s confidence and determination building as the season went on. He became more sure of himself and had a better sense of what he needed to do to be successful.
“It was pure determination,” said Kramer. “He knew what he was doing. He knew what height he was going to come in at. He was going to be successful at that height.”
One unexpected twist was an episode in preseason. After hyperventilating, he went to the hospital and doctors discovered the asthma. It limited what he could do for the team, but it allowed him to hone in on his specialties.
“We couldn’t push him too hard,” said Kramer. “As a coach, I want to keep him healthy. We picked two events that he could compete in and do well in.”
He entered the state meet as the first seed in the high jump and second seed in the long jump. He jumped the 6-2 in the high jump beating out the nearest competitor’s height of 5-10. In the long jump, he had a distance of 19-10.50, putting him second to Hermon’s Ryan Feeney with 20-5.25.
“I was happy to get 6-2 because I still had a cold,” he said. “I’d get winded real easily. I got 6-2, and I was so excited because I got first.”
York is looking into attending the University of Maine. He’s been in contact with coaches there and will be visiting a meet in Orono on Saturday. He’s hoping to study electrical engineering.
As great as York season’s ultimately was, it proved beneficial for the program as well. With Cam Woodford taking second in the shot, the Knights were able to earn 27 points. It put them seventh overall and just a three points out of the top five. York’s success and work set the tone for Poland this year and seasons to come.
“They look at him as a competitive athlete, but I think they realize that four years ago, he wasn’t as successful a jumper as he is now,” said Kramer. “He’s got a talent that was given to him naturally, but he maximized it. When kids see someone maximize his talent, it become contagious.”