Friday, August 01, 2014

Natt juiced for state meet

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 5/22/2013

Ottawa High School senior Dallas Natt understands what an opportunity he has before him. Natt is gunning for his third straight triple jump state championship.

He also would like to add a state title in the long jump after finishing second last year. Natt feeds off the state meet atmosphere in Wichita. He has two of his best triple jump performances the past two years at state.

Ottawa High School senior Dallas Natt understands what an opportunity he has before him. Natt is gunning for his third straight triple jump state championship.

He also would like to add a state title in the long jump after finishing second last year. Natt feeds off the state meet atmosphere in Wichita. He has two of his best triple jump performances the past two years at state.

“At state, I love the atmosphere and everything that comes with it,” Natt said. “I feel like everyone is watching, but it does not pressure me. It makes me more relaxed and I just go out and jump.”

The state track meet runs Friday and Saturday at Wichita State University’s Cessna Stadium. Nearly 4,000 athletes are competing for state medals.

“It is awesome to be a part of one of the largest high school track meets in the world,” Natt said. “It is so cool. It is so fun. You see people break records. They announce it. They appreciate what you are doing. Everybody gets up and cheers. That is the feeling I want this year.

“It gives me an extra spring ... an extra pep in my step.”

Veteran Ottawa track coach Mark Laws said Natt has been an inspiration to the Cyclone track program and this chance for a three-peat is special.

“He has an opportunity to put the icing on the cake for his high school career,” Laws said. “It is something to cherish. He has worked hard. He has ability that not everybody else has.

“He always enjoyed going to Wichita.”

Natt’s presence helped Ottawa’s jumpers succeed through the years.

“He has been an inspiration for our kids,” Laws said. “He has been a coach for our kids. He has been some lively juice. He has been a spark for us.

“He has a lot left to learn. He likes the sport and likes to study the sport.”

Natt made adjustments to the little nuances of the sport. He changed his approach in the long jump since his disappointing performance at the Kansas Relays.

“He has struggled with that lately,” Laws said of his steps for the long jump. “He is getting down the track quicker. He is having to make some adjustments.”

Natt said, “ My long jump mark was messing me up. This year, I tried to go with a closer step after not doing well at the KU Relays.

“You have your close approaches and your long approaches. I knew these last two meets had a longer track. I will use that whole track to get my speed and move through that board.

“I want to pop off that board.”

Competitiveness burns inside Natt. He finished second in the Frontier League meet and regionals in the long jump.

“The competition gets harder,” Natt said. “This year, my long jump has not been as good as last year. My triple jump has expanded so much.”

One of his top long jump competitors is one of his best friends. Piper’s Matthew McDonald leaped seven inches further to beat Natt at regionals.

“I have something coming for him,” Natt said with a mischievous smile.

He owned the triple jump the past two years. He has the state championships. Now he wants to eclipse the school record of 46 feet, 8 inches. He was a half-inch short earlier this season.

“I am trying to get all 46s,” Natt said. “I had never jumped more than one 46 in the same meet until regionals. It gave my confidence a big boost.”

Natt is blessed for the opportunity to compete at a high level in track and basketball. It led to his signing with Pittsburg State to compete for the men’s track program.

He was key cog of the boys basketball team’s state title this spring and the other three state runner-up teams.

Natt is not sad his high school career is ending.

“It is more of a happy feeling knowing I have a great four years here at Ottawa,” he said. “Not a lot of people have a chance to go to state four years in a row. Go to state track three years in a row. Go for a three-time state championship. Not many have that chance.

“I will take it as far as I can.”

Top thrower

Ottawa junior Kord Ferguson blossomed this season into one of the top shot put and discus throwers in the nation. He has the fifth-best performances in both events.

Ferguson’s best mark in the shot put is 63-6, set in the first meet of the season. He went 199-1 in the discus at Friday’s regional.

“His technique has improved so much,” Laws said. “Not just physically, but mentally.”

Ferguson is the favorite to win both events at state and has a chance to set school and state meet records. He is just 3/4 of an inch away from the school mark in the  shot put.

“That would be fantastic,” Laws said about him winning two gold medals.

His influence inspired Ottawa’s shot putters all season.

Ottawa qualified three shot putters for state and all head into state ranked in the top four.

“They are fun to watch,” Laws said. “Having three guys go in the shot put as a group doesn’t happen very often.

“They can be teammates, work together, encourage each other and help each other out. It is a neat and exciting time in their athletic career.”

Ottawa qualified for state in 10 events (seven boys and three girls). Laws said those athletes did not qualify for state by accident.

“The kids we are taking there have earned their way,” Laws said. “Their chances are good. Learn from it, especially if you are an underclassmen.”

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