By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- Matt Nicholson had a tough decision to make earlier this season. The Warren County senior had been trying to play baseball and run track, but decided focusing on one would be better -- so he chose to focus on track.
It's certainly paid off for him as last week he won the long jump in the Evergreen District meet, and finished second in the high jump.
Nicholson, the Northern Virginia Daily's Male Athlete of the Week for May 5-11, said he chose track because of his commitment to play football at Virginia Military Institute next year.
"I just thought it would get me better prepared for VMI next year," Nicholson said.
Nicholson won the triple jump with a leap of 21-08, giving him two straight district titles in the event.
He said that he felt even better winning it the second time around. Nicholson won despite straining his groin early in the meet, and got his winning jump on his third try.
"I thought it was a good meet for me overall, especially considering the leg injury," Nicholson said.
Nicholson then competed in the high jump and was one of the final three competing. Each of three missed from 6-0 on their first two attempts, but both Nicholson and Fauquier's Marc Cropp missed on their third attempt. Kettle Run's Carlos Vegerano then made it on his final attempt to win the event.
Nicholson said he never really thought about dropping out due to the injury and was happy with how he did.
"I just went for it," Nicholson said. "I knew I just had to suck it up a little bit."
Nicholson said the long jump is his favorite of the two events.
Warren County coach Kennon Yeck said that Nicholson's natural athleticism is a big key to his success.
"He just has natural talent and speed," Yeck said. "He's really coachable. He listens to everything he's told. He's doing really well this year."
Nicholson said he's learned a lot from Warren County jumps coach Joseph Owens.
"He's really helped me a lot with everything," Nicholson said. "I just try to listen to him and take his advice."
Nicholson will next compete in the Region II meet at Fluvanna on May 22.
"My main goal for regionals is just to get healthy," Nicholson said. "I want to win regionals in the long jump. I think a good jump will do that. In the high jump, I'm still going in thinking I can win, but I really just want to place. I want to use regionals as more like practice for states."
Nicholson's PR each came earlier this year. He had a jump of 22-06 in his first meet of the season in the long jump. He cleared 6-02 in the high jump in the Handley Invitational on April 20.
Nicholson has already qualified for states in both events. Last year Nicholson finished third in the Group AA state meet, and this season he has his sights set even higher.
"I definitely would like to win it," Nicholson said. "I'm just going to try to do my best."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org