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Gainesville High pole vaulter Hunter Mallard aiming to win in all classifications at state meet
Senior recently signed scholarship to compete at Georgia Tech
Gainesville High senior Hunter Mallard is shooting for his second state championship in the pole vault.

Track and Field State qualifiers

Class 6A
Nick Anderson, Pole Vault; Mugisha Beinvenu, 3,200 meters; Tija Blackwell, High Jump; Jada Harrison, 100 hurdles, 300 Hurdles; Hunter Mallard, Pole Vault; Devonte Mize, 110 Hurdles, 300 Hurdles; Sydney Payne, Shot Put; Alex Sosa, 3200 meters; Cameron Sturdivant, 200 meters

Class 5A
Flowery Branch
Hannah Grainger, 800 meters; Ethan Hargrove, 1600 meters, 3200 meters; Shannon Hoolahan, 1600 meters, 3200 meters; Tyler Jackson, 400 meters; Tyler Lorenz, Pole Vault; Mariah Millsap, 800 meters; Erika Plummer, 1,600 meters, 3,200 meters

Class 4A
Megan Dew, 400 meters, 300 Hurdles; Dawndria Bell, 300 Hurdles; Lindsey Grater, 3200 meters; Kinsey Wilson, High Jump

West Hall
Austin Sinclair, Long Jump; Carina Brown, Triple Jump; Aaliyah James, 100 meters, 200 meters; George Lira 100 meters, 200 meters

Class 3A
East Hall
Shyla Anderson, High Jump, 4x100 Relay; Ter-nique Fanning, 4x100 Relay; Lexie Grizzle, 4x100 Relay; Janelly Lara, 4x100 Relay; Sedrion Morse, Triple Jump; Jada Rucker, 4x100 Relay; Jose Santana, 3200 meters

North Hall
Mac Bennett, Discus, Shot Put; Mattie Bohanan, 4x400 relay; Rebecca Bowen, Discus, Shot Put; Olivia Bradley, 400, 4x400 Relay; Ansleigh Ferguson, Discus Throw; Daniel Jackson, High Jump; Tommy Johnston, 1600, 800 meters; Joslyn Keels, 1,600 Relay; Gracie McBride, Triple, 300 meter Hurdles, 100 Hurdles, 4x400 Relay; Kennedy Olson, Pole Vault; Florajean Puente, 4x400 Relay; Cutter Sanford, 110 meter Hurdles, 300 meter Hurdles; David Seid, Pole Vault; Hennebry Waters, 800 meters, 1600 Relay; Brooklyn Wilson, Pole Vault

Class A
Riverside Military Academy
Jareus Bong Dibongue, High Jump; James Bruebeck, Pole Vault; Demarko Hooper, 4x100 Relay, 300 meter Hurdles; Antonio Copeland, 4x100 Relay, 100 meters; Demaldi Lasisi, 4x100 Relay, 400 meters; Charles Dimnwaobi, 4x100 Relay, 100 meters, 200 meters; Isaac Teasly, 400 meters

Gainesville High pole vaulter Hunter Mallard won’t be content if he wins the Class 6A state championship set for today at Grisham Stadium in Carrollton.

Instead, Mallard’s main goal is to win in all classifications in pole vaulting.

He won the Class 5A state pole vault title as a sophomore, and he believes an injury prevented him from repeating the feat the following season. Now a senior, Mallard said he wants to lift the bar higher for himself.

“I’m not one of those that you make an achievement and you just want to keep hitting that achievement,” Mallard said. “I’m one of those people that if I hit an achievement, I’ve got to go further or I’m not satisfied.”

Mallard, the top-ranked pole vaulter in Georgia, is aiming for 16 feet, 9 inches at state. He said Jack Cahillane of Westminster is his biggest competition among other classifications.

During his freshman season, Mallard struggled to clear just 5 feet. But thanks to his competitive drive to be the best, he worked his way to 15 feet his sophomore year to win state.

To keep improving his height, Mallard sought advice from pole vaulters who had more experience than him.

Mallard noticed some of the pole vaulters he competed with talked about watching film, prompting him to ask his personal coach Paul Malquist what things he should look at. Malquist, who was a standout at Gainesville and a pole vaulter at the University of Georgia, sent him some videos of Olympic pole vaulters and told him to look at what they are doing right and what he was doing wrong.

Mallard said studying film has helped him improve a lot in his career and become more self-coachable.

His mother Lara, who is also one of the senior’s pole vaulting coaches, is a witness to how much he studies the sport.

“I am extremely proud of Hunter,” Lara said. “Hunter seemed to have a natural affinity for pole vault when he started as a freshman, but I had no idea how far he would actually go. He watches film of vaulters daily, breaking down every aspect of the vault and working through the physics and kinesthetics of each part in order to work on perfecting those small aspects that makes such a difference when vaulting at the level he has reached.

“His work ethic for the sport is one that you don’t always see with high school athletes. Hunter practices and vaults year round. During the summer, he is practicing five days a week and in the weight room as well.”

With the help of his coaches and his desire to be the best, qualifying for state was a breeze for Mallard, who finished first in regionals and sectionals.

“I wish I had more competition. Winning my class state championship would not mean anything more to me than me winning (the) Bojangles (meet),” Mallard said.

Mallard competed in the Bojangles Track and Field Classic in April and bested 74 pole vaulters from seven different states. Mallard is also an AP student set on attending Georgia Tech, where he just signed to compete as a pole vaulter and will compete for Nationals in the summer.

He currently has a partial scholarship to compete for the Yellow Jackets, but if he clears 17 feet — which he plans to do this summer — that will guarantee a full ride to Georgia Tech. Mallard also has aspirations to represent USA in the Olympics.

Mallard said he plans to treat himself if he wins among all classifications at state and breaks the state record of 17-2.

“I would take the next two weeks off and treat myself to Waffle House that night,” the Gainesville senior said.

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