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Track: Mad Mak – Decatur freshman fuels emotions into gold

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, April 25, 2018
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Headed to Regionals

HEADED TO REGIONALS – Makenna Gantt made it through district and area competition and will throw at regionals. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur’s Makenna Gantt trailed by a foot going into her final attempt in the shot put at the District 9-4A meet two weeks ago at Argyle.

The freshman knew she had to make an adjustment to claim the gold. On her last throw, Gantt broke her personal record, hurling 37-8 to clinch the title.

What change did she make? She got angry.

SETTING RECORDS – Decatur freshman Makenna Gantt throws the shot put during last week’s area track meet. Gantt set a new personal-best, hurling 38-2 to advance to regionals. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I just have to focus hard and think about what the throw is going to look like – and I have to get mad. I have to get really mad to be able to [throw] it out there.

“[At the district meet] a girl out-threw me by a foot, so I told myself ‘You’ve got to do something to fix this.’ I scratched my first two attempts in finals, so I was mad at the scratches, and I was mad at the girl that was out-throwing me. I just dug in deep.”

Gantt’s performance at the 9-4A meet propelled her to an area title last week at Decatur. Just a week removed from setting a personal record, Gantt PR’d again at area, throwing 38-2 to advance to regionals.

“I’m pretty proud of myself,” Gantt said. “I’ve been doing this since seventh grade, so I’ve been putting in the work in the summer and even during volleyball, I’m still working on it.”

Along with experiencing success on the track, Gantt also emerged as an integral piece for the Lady Eagles volleyball team last year. Gantt earned District 9-4A Newcomer of the Year in 2017, notching 153 kills and 488 assists.

Gantt helped Decatur advance to the regional quarterfinals before falling to state runner-up Argyle.

“She never misses a day,” said Decatur boys coach Landon Wren. “She’s out there working with Coach [Tony] Roth every single day. She enjoys it. She enjoys competing. Just the fact that she’s a freshman excites all of us, knowing we get to see her for three more years. I don’t think there’s any stopping her, because her work ethic is there.”

Decatur girls coach David Park said it has been impressive to see Gantt succeed in field events that require extreme concentration to detail. Along with snagging district and area titles in the shot put, Gantt won the 9-4A championship in discus.

She placed fifth in discus at the area meet with a toss of 90-1.5, narrowly missing out on regionals.

“That’s what people don’t understand about the throwing events – the shot and the discus – No. 1 those are very technical events – but some people think ‘Oh, if you’re just big and strong [you’ll succeed]’,” Park said. “No. I’ve got news for you, there’s a lot of quickness and physics involved.

“I think the sky is the limit [for Gantt]. She’s there every day. She’s ready to work every day.”

Gantt will compete at the 4A Region II championships Friday and Saturday at Texas A&M-Commerce for the right to go to state. Teammate Madi Kyle will also compete alongside Gantt. She took bronze at area, throwing 34-6.

“It keeps me busy because we’re pretty good friends,” Gantt said. “We’re pretty [competitive]. We have competitions during practices.”

Gantt’s personal-best of 38-2 ranks 20th in Class 4A. The top two at regionals advance to the state meet May 11-12 at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I just have to put in more work – and I have to get really mad,” Gantt said.

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