Kluesner achieves rare track and field feat

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Maci Kluesner ran the 100 meter dash at Waukon on April 27, competing the goal of competing in every track and field event before graduating. (Photo by Bev Hamann)

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

 

Central senior Maci Kluesner set a goal to do something that is rare in Central’s track and field history: to compete in every single event before graduating. In fact, it’s so rare that, in Martha Bauder’s 37 years as coach of the girl’s track and field team, it’s only been done five other times. 

 

The goal had its roots in Maci’s personality: she is a carefree, try-anything type. In middle school, a decision to try something new led to a passion for hurdles and the long jump, but the goal really began during Maci’s sophomore season— almost as an accident. Bauder made the decision to put Maci in the mile run during the conference meet because the team lacked distance runners. The decision wasn’t without logic, as Maci also participates in cross country. It was after this race that the long journey to completion began. 

 

According to Maci, competing in 19 different events of varying degrees of difficulty was important not just for the accomplishment or attention, but because she said she would do it. 

 

“I wanted to say I did it, but I also never want to go back on my word. Track is my favorite sport and it’s taught me to persevere when others are down and it’s taught me that you can’t quit because other people are relying on you,” Maci said. 

 

Bauder said the main reason anyone tries all the events is the element of fun.

 

“And Maci definitely sees the fun in everything,” she shared. “She’s also one of those rare individuals who is comfortable with taking a risk, of not worrying about whether it will be perfect or even half perfect, of wanting to see what something will be like, of wanting to experience everything and being willing to fill in any position in our line up whenever she was needed. I was in total support of her wanting to take on this goal. I knew she could physically handle it way back as a freshman because she had the grit to do cross country, the lack of fear to do hurdles, the drive to work on the skills for long jump and the basic body strength to attempt shot and discus.”

 

The entire team was helpful, positive, motivating and, in the words of Maci, “awesome” throughout the process. While they could’ve looked at the goal as a sideshow attraction or a distraction, they instead supported their teammate by helping her learn the necessary skills. They cheered her on and wrapped their arms around the goal and Maci until she saw it to the end. 

 

Competing in every event wasn’t without some challenges. 

 

One was the cancellation of last year’s track and field season due to COVID-19, which created a domino effect. First, Maci was left without a season of proper training, losing her normal summer routine working out with Bauder and teammate McKenna Jaster. The lost year was evident in some of the remaining events left on the list, such as the 3000 meter run, which Maci admitted she was not conditioned for when she ran it at the Starmont meet this season. 

 

“The 3000 meter was zero percent fun and kind of embarrassing. I did it at Starmont with girls who were way faster than me in the wind and the rain,” Maci said. 

 

However, the 3000 was just one of the events remaining entering Maci’s senior season. The others included the 100 meter dash, 400 meter dash, high jump, shot put and discus, all representing three different disciplines from running, to jumping to throwing. 

 

As Maci made her way through the list, she found she enjoyed the high jump and throwing events, but wasn’t a fan of the 400, and saved the 100 for last. 

 

The end came on April 27, at the Waukon Girls Indian Relays, when Maci crossed the finish line in third place in the JV division of the 100 meter dash with a time of 14.82. 

 

With the goal over and her last season coming to an end, Maci reflected fondly on the last few years’ memories as well as everything track and field has given her. That’s included the ability to overcome, willingness to put in the hard work and even the social skills to open up and communicate. 

 

Bauder believes the team is losing a dependable teammate and will miss Maci’s “ability to stay positive and helpful in every situation.” 

 

“She’s been one of the most positive and caring teammates a coach and team could ever ask for,” Bauder said. 

 

As for Maci, she leaves behind a memory and a goal others can strive toward. She will end her career with 16 track and field medals and knowing she improved every year in every way possible.

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