DV’s Baker, Maack succeed on track, as mentors - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

DV’s Baker, Maack succeed on track, as mentors

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Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2011 4:00 pm | Updated: 10:29 am, Fri Jun 17, 2011.

One helps out at a middle school and the other took over as a pseudo assistant coach last week at the Chandler Rotary Invitational.

In other words, Desert Vista boys track coach Chris Hanson has a couple of athletes already giving back to the sport that drives them to succeed.

Edmond Baker and Ryan Maack may very well become coaches themselves someday, but until then they will continue to fulfill their double duties this season.

Baker helps out with high jumpers at Akimel A-al Middle School, who are getting guidance from one of the nation's top performers.

At the Chandler Rotary Invitational last weekend, Baker posted a mark of 6-feet, 10-inches, which ranks as the fourth best effort in the United States this season.

"From what I understand, he just missed 6-11," Hanson said. "He wants the 7-foot marker as they all do. He can get there. He didn't go out for football to concentrate on track and he has already gotten to the next level in the high jump."

That fact that Baker, who will be on college recruiters' radar more than ever, volunteers his time is just another indicator of the mature approach he has brought into this final season.

"A kid who gives back to the sport already has an understanding of the big picture and that isn't always the case with high school kids," Hanson said. "He is kind of reserved and a super kid. He is a quiet leader and does whatever needs to be done to improve."

Baker finished second in the high jump at the Class 5A Division I state meet last season, and was 10th in the triple jump.

Hanson thinks Baker's drive will give him a shot at the 7-foot mark while making a run at state placement in the triple and long jump as well.

"He has the monkey off his back now and he had a big smile on his face," Hanson said. "I think he will really open things up now with a new sense of confidence."

Maack has a lot of the same qualities as Baker in that he is a quiet leader and has an understanding that he has a responsibility to help the younger athletes in the program.

"I wasn't allowed in the infield (at the Chandler Rotary) and we had a couple of freshmen running in the 3200 on Friday," Hanson said. "Ryan stayed with them, made sure they warmed up properly and stayed loose. They both (Andrew Hermanski and Kyle Herrig) ended up PR-ing by about 30 seconds.

"They basically became an extension of Ryan."

Maack is a distance runner who has been around the sport for years. His mother, Chris, ran at Arizona State and is the track coach at Altadena Middle School.

"It has always come natural I guess," said Maack, who finished 14th in the 3200 in a very deep field with a time 9 minutes and 49.26 seconds. "Running is something I plan on doing the rest of my life."

But it isn't something he plans on doing in college, at least competitively, when he attends ASU in the fall after being accepted in the Barrett Honors College.

"I love it but I think I am ready to move on," said Maack, who finished 12th at state in the 3,200 last season. "I've enjoyed it, but I think I want to concentrate on school. I could probably go to a smaller school and run, but I want to go to ASU."

While Maack finished in the back of the pack in the Rotary final, Hanson said that Maack ran exactly as they discussed prior to the meet.

"A lot of athletes get less coachable as they get older, but he is as coachable as they come," Hanson said. "I've said this before but he is the not most talented runner we have, but his hard work and the way he prepares puts him in that top spot.

"He is an extremely bright kid and instead of using athletics to get to college, he is using academics. It's another reason he is one of our role models for the young kids to aspire to be."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
  • Sports writer
  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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