As Joe Mucklestone cleared the final hurdle, he eyed the clock straight ahead. It said thirty-seven seconds. His longtime goal had been to break forty seconds in the 300 hurdles. And this was the 2019 Kingco Tourney for his senior year – his last hurrah. Approaching the finish line, he went for broke -- in Marshawn Lynch style.
“So I hurled myself forward and made a tremendous fall,” Mucklestone said. “I really bruised up the left side of my arm and shoulder. I got 40.35, which was my fastest time ever.”
Last week, Joe Mucklestone graduated from Woodinville High School. He had capped off his prep track career in grand style. And now this week, he’ll be crossing another major threshold of his life, as he reports to the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
In these last remaining days of civilian life, he’s enjoying time with family and friends in Woodinville. He took time to reflect on his track and field days, before looking ahead to what’s to come.
When it comes to running track, Mucklestone is maniacal in his precision. This is not to paint him as Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good as it Gets. But still, everything has to be perfect. Perhaps a combination of preparation and superstition.
“I'm a very analytical type of guy,” he said. “I have to go out and hit a certain number of steps. I have to do five of this and that before my race. I have to take three sips of water. I have to make sure my blocks are lined up precisely… Then I'm ready to go.”
One thing he learned at Woodinville was that running hurdles depends on a good explosion out of the blocks.
“I didn't start setting PRs until I really began getting after it at the start,” he said. “I used to think it was a matter of how many steps you take between the hurdles. That is another part of it. But it's mainly how fast you get out to the first hurdle, because you're going to carry that momentum throughout the race. That's the goal of the hurdles, to not lose the momentum. Especially for me, as I'm only 5'9", so it's hard for me to recover [if he falls behind]. So I needed to be very technical in this race and make sure everything was right.”
Another benefit from Woodinville track was the social aspect. He felt it helped him develop as an athlete and as a person.
“That is something that has grown in me,” he said. “When I came in for my freshman year, I didn't focus on the social things. My sophomore year, I hit a bump in the road. I had shin splints and I never really PR’d that year. It forced me to focus on the team aspect of track and field and realize it's not just about your personal events. It's about the greater good of the team, especially if you're running relays.
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