Kuntz goes from worrisome to placing 7th
Since Mason Kuntz's birthday is in October, the 12-year-old from Dickinson was forced to compete in the 13- to 14-year-old age group in Hershey's track and field meets.
She was worried about qualifying -- let alone placing -- in the Hershey's National track and field meet.
"I felt like there was a small part of me that knew I could make it," Kuntz said.
Nonetheless, Kuntz put the worries aside and placed seventh with a distance of 7 feet, 6 1/4 inches in the standing long jump at the Hershey's National track and field meet on Saturday in Hershey, Pa.
"I was really nervous," Kuntz said. "But, I was nervous and excited at the same time. There were a lot of older kids and I knew they could jump really far. I was pretty happy that I was able to get on the podium."
One of the biggest highlights about placing in the standing long jump at the Hershey's National track and field meet was being presented with her medal by 10-time Olympic medalist Carl Lewis. In the four Olympic games Lewis competed in, he won the gold medal in the long jump four times.
"It was pretty cool," Kuntz said. "It was amazing to have an Olympic gold medalist put a medal around my neck."
Though Kuntz didn't know who Lewis was right away, her parents Dirk and Lori explained to their daughter he was one of the decorated long jumpers in history.
"It's a great feeling and (Lewis) is very well known for his track and field ability," Lori said. "We are very proud of her. We are proud that she made it to Hershey, because that's an accomplishment in itself and placing seventh is just another big accomplishment."
Kuntz, who is a seventh-grader at Dickinson Trinity, has qualified for the Hershey's National track and field meet twice before. However, both times she was in Montana. Though she had experience being at the Hershey's National track and field meet before, she was brimming with adrenaline.
While she scratched on her first attempt, she looked to parents for support.
"They kept encouraging me and they kept telling me I was going to do really well," Mason Kuntz said. "It's really nice to have that support system."
Jodi Kuntz added: "It definitely a great accomplishment. You are competing against everyone in that age group who is trying out in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. There are more than 300,000 kids that tryout for it and less than 500 kids make it."
Being an incoming seventh-grader at Trinity, Mason Kuntz will be able to compete in junior high track meets -- an advantage a majority of her competitors already had.
Kuntz hopes to continue growing in track and field.
"I'm just hoping that I can start jump a lot further and continue to get better," Kuntz said. "I hope the junior high school season is able to help me along."