Malyk Burks had no explanation.
Malyk Burks had no explanation.
Was it perfect form?
Was it adrenaline?
Was it a good pop off the springboard?
Perhaps it was a combination of all three that helped the senior on the Thomas Worthington High School boys track and field team not only to break a 41-year-old program record in the long jump, but shatter the previous mark by seven inches.
In the Gary Smith Invitational on May 3 at home, Burks won the long jump in 22 feet, 9 1/2 inches, surpassing the previous record of 22-2 1/2, set by John Madry in 1973. Burks' personal best entering the meet was 22-1 1/2.
"I have no idea where that came from," Burks said. "But when I got the pop off of the board, I knew I had a good jump. When (the official) said it was 22-9 (1/2), I was confused. I knew it was good, but I had no idea that good."
Assistant coach Caleb Downey, who works with the long and high jumpers, said Burks has natural talent and a tireless work ethic.
"Malyk found out he had some talent (for the long jump) and he really started setting his expectations higher," Downey said. "He no longer tries to improve from week to week, but has set his sights on getting back to state and getting on the podium."
Burks transferred to Thomas from Whitehall before his sophomore year. He focused mostly on sprinting events until last season, when he began competing in the long jump.
Last year in the Division I regional meet at Pickerington North, Burks placed fourth (21-4 1/2) to advance to state, where he finished 14th (21-4 3/4). He walked away from state with a new-found drive for excellence.
"It was a whole different ballgame at state," Burks said. "It was very intimidating. I was the only one from our (boys) team there, and I was going up against the best guys in the state. That was a crazy thought.
"But I gained a lot of experience and I know what to expect if I make it back this year. I really started working a lot in the offseason to try to get back."
Coach Bill Darling has noticed Burks' improvement.
"I think Malyk was surprised that he made it to the state meet last year," he said. "I think he looked around and kind of liked it. He knew the competition was at a different level and he has worked hard to try to get back there and show what he can do."
Burks said mechanics play an important role in the long jump.
"There are two kinds of jumpers, hitch-kickers and gliders. Gliders kind of glide through the air after they take off, and hitch-kickers keep running as they go through the air.
"I'm a hitch-kicker, and that's not something you train yourself to do. You're either a glider or a hitch-kicker. It just happens."
Downey said being a hitch-kicker could be contributing to Burks' success.
"Being a sprinter, Malyk is used to running, and most sprinters are hitch-kickers," Downey said.
"He runs through the air in an over-exaggerated manner because it's his natural instinct to go fast.
"It's like being right- or left-handed. You're either a hitch-kicker or a glider, and the really good ones you see in college or the Olympics are normally hitch-kickers."
Burks also competes in the 200 meters as well as on the 800 and 1,600 relays. His best time in the 200 this season is 22.92 seconds. Burks, Jalen Wells, Jason Baty and Garrett Featherstone entered last week with area's top time in the 800 relay (1:29.16) and the third-best time in the 1,600 relay (3:23.1).
"I like running relays as well as the long jump and the 200," Burks said. "The guys (on the 800 and 1,600 relays) are amazing. We're all good friends and it's good to have a team aspect to the sport. I like that."