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Franklin leaps to gold

Staff photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith  Malik Franklin stands in the sand pit he trained in at Newton High School, helping him achieve his goal of winning state in the triple jump.

Staff photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Malik Franklin stands in the sand pit he trained in at Newton High School, helping him achieve his goal of winning state in the triple jump.

COVINGTON -- Newton junior Malik Franklin was obviously disappointed after a less-than-stellar long jump at the Class AAAAAA Boys State Track and Field Championship on May 2. Instead of sulking, he turned that disappointment into useful energy to win the triple jump championship.

He posted the distance to beat beyond anyone's reach with a jump of 47 feet, 1.50 inches, which was the jump that won state, on his first attempt.

"I had the fourth-longest jump in the prelims," Franklin said. "I went in on my first jump and everyone else pretty much gave up."

Not only did Franklin win state with his jump, he also set a new school record.

"We expected him to do better in the long jump, so I guess he came back with some anger on that first jump and really got out there," Newton head coach Cortez Allen said. "He did a great job just competing after a not-so-great performance in the long jump to come back and win the triple."

During the season, Franklin had a long jump of 23 feet, so everyone knew his potential. But in the championship, he made a poor jump of just 21 feet, 8.25 inches to finish in sixth place, with Tri-Cities' Kenneth Fisher winning the long jump with a distance of 23-04.

No matter how much Fisher and the other contenders tried, no one was able to come close to Franklin in the triple jump. Fisher, who according to Allen held the longest jump in the state this season, was a foot behind Franklin, taking second place with a distance of 46-01.

While many of the other jumpers quit after Franklin set the mark, Fisher was not one of those.

"We had (Franklin) take his last jump because the kid from Tri-Cities was behind him. We've seen it happen multiple times at state where a kid may scratch because he thinks he has it and the kid behind him comes back and has a tremendous jump and ends up beating him out," Allen said. "To win by a foot was substantial. No one really came close."

After Fisher failed to beat Franklin on his final attempt, he felt a relief come over him.

"I felt that all of my hard work and weightlifting I've been doing has paid off and finally got me where I want to be," Franklin said. "I'm looking to break the 50-foot mark next year. I think only three have done it in high school that I know of."

Although it's difficult to increase one's distance by three feet, Allen feels that Franklin has the ability to do it.

"I think he can do it. This kid has something in him," Allen said. "This summer he's going to have to work on his strength and participate in summer track. Hopefully with the ability to get out there and compete throughout the summer months, the sky is the limit for him."

The state record was set by Clarke Central's Nate Cooper in 1975 with a jump of 51-07.50.