Century track athletes running, jumping to Lane CC
Two Century students signed letters of intent last week, both signing to compete in track and field at Lane Community College in Eugene.
Classmates Nina Mastrantonio and Nathan Poff inked their decisions in the athletic offices at Century High School in front of coaches and loved ones, finalizing a process that might have been longer than they liked.
Mastrantonio, a long jump and triple jumper for the Jaguars, was relieved to finalize her decision after being "overwhelmed" in recent months by the pressure of a decision. In the end, however, she knew she made the right choice, she said, and she is excited about the opportunity to continue competing and growing as an athlete.
"Once I signed with Lane, I knew I was making the right decision and my feelings of being overwhelmed turned to excitement for the upcoming year," said Mastrantonio. "I'm excited to see how much more I can improve with new coaching and techniques."
The recent graduate recorded personal bests in both the long and triple jumps this past season, reaching 15-10.5 in the long jump in a dual meet in April, while besting her previous best triple jump by more than a foot at last month's Metro League Championships, stretching to 35-2.75.
"It feels amazing knowing that all of my hard work paid off," Mastrantonio said. "This season I had a goal of going to state so I did a lot of preseason workouts on my own and worked hard during practice."
She was extremely appreciative of her coach, Century head track and field coach Sam Elliott, for providing her the attention necessary to reach her potential on the track.
"My coach, Sam Elliott, was pivotal in helping me get to where I am today," Mastrantonio said. "She would also give us pretty intense workouts that would catch us by surprise at the end of practice, and she always said, 'These extra sprints are going to make a difference when everyone else is tired on their last jumps, you won't be.' Which is true, because my last jump at districts was a PR and got me to state."
Poff, a sprinter for the Jaguars who plans to compete in the decathlon in college, echoed his classmate's excitement to sign with Lane. Despite a couple opportunities to compete at larger schools, he said he was intrigued by the close attention he can get at the community college level.
"At Lane, I will be able to be coached more individually," Poff said. "And with my focus on the decathlon, I will need all the individual training I can get."
The first-team All-Metro Leaguer finished first in the 400 meters at the Metro League Championships last month and sixth at the state championships, where he ran a personal best 49.47. He also placed third in the long jump at Metro, and competed in the 100 and 200 meters, hurdles, shot put, discus, javelin, and high jump at least once during the 2018 season. Hence his desire to compete in the decathlon.
Poff is grateful to his dad, who himself competed for Brigham Young University in the 1980s, for advising, critiquing and leading him by example, on and off the track.
"I definitely feel like I owe so much to my dad," said Poff. "He was always willing to record my training, critique my technique, and be a role model in the family, in his work, and in track and field."
And now that he's done at Century, how does he view his future at Lane?
"There's still so much more for me to do with track, and I'm not done working hard to achieve all that I can at Lane — and beyond," Poff said.