Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Conner Aiming High at NCAA

By Brian Rosenthal

Mayson Conner, a native of McCool Junction and graduate of York High School, will be among three Nebraska track and field athletes to compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday and Saturday. Conner, a freshman, won the Big Ten Championship in the high jump with a personal best jump of 7-3 3/4 (2.23m). His jump tied him for the 11th-best mark in the nation this season. At York, Conner won three Nebraska Class B state high jump titles and set a Class B state meet record with a jump of 7-0 1/4 (2.13m) as a senior. Conner visited with Brian Rosenthal of Huskers.com in this Q-n-A to discuss his successful start to his collegiate career.

BR: How and when did you first discover you could be a good high jumper?

Mayson: “I started in the seventh grade, like everybody else, I guess, and figured out I was better at that than any of my other events, so I just started to get more serious about it, then in eighth grade and high school I got a lot more serious about it. I went to camps and just started to put more emphasis and focus on it than other sports."

BR: What were other events that you did?

Mayson: “I hardly did any other events. I guess I did the 200 once my senior year, but I haven’t done any other events consistently since like my freshman year."  

BR: So if the Nebraska coaches told you that you had to do one other event, what would it be?

Mayson: “Oh my gosh. (laughs). I’m so bad at all the other events, I don’t even know. I’m slow and I can’t jump far, so I don’t know. Maybe … I have no idea. Maybe the long jump. That’s the least stamina, I guess.”

BR: Have you played other sports?

Mayson: “Yeah, I played basketball up until my junior year, but I didn’t play my senior year so I could do indoor track. And then I played football all four years. I was a punter on the varsity level.”

BR: Is there any certain nuance or key to high jumping the average person may not understand?

Mayson: “A lot of people don’t really realize how much physics goes into it. There’s so many different moving parts, and it’s kind of interesting to get to learn more about it now that I’m here, because Dusty (Jonas) and Mike (McCann) know a lot more about it than any of my coaches have in the past. It’s been really cool learning about the physics part and all of the pieces that go into it. It’s not just jumping high. It’s about getting as much speed as you can.”

BR: How many reps a day do you do?

Mayson: “I jump twice a week on average, and we jump 8 to 10 times in practice, I’d say. Not always full approach, but yeah."

BR: What are your goals for the remainder of the year?

Mayson: “My goal for the rest of indoor is to be in top 8 at NCAAs this weekend, so I’d be up for first-team All-American. I’m sitting 11th right now, so I have to pass a few guys up. Then outdoor, I want to win Big Ten again and become an All-American there, too."

BR: Did you have any idea you would accomplish this much already as a true freshman?

Mayson: “A lot of people I’ve talked to about coming here, just at different meets and things like that, they say it usually takes a while for the high jumping program to take effect and see results from it. I definitely didn’t expect to have this much success coming in. I didn’t expect to win Big Ten or anything like that. I knew the event was wide open this year because a lot of people graduated last year, but yeah, it’s definitely pretty unexpected."

BR: What’s the most miserable weather you’ve ever competed in?

Mayson: “I remember one meet at Central City it was like 40 degrees, raining and there were like 20-30 mile-per-hour winds. I took about three jumps that meet and called it good, went back to the tent. I think I went 6-8.”

BR: Who could make the biggest impression in the other person’s event? You running the mile, or George Kusche in the high jump?

Mayson: “Definitely George in high jump. I would not be able to run a mile. I probably wouldn’t even be able to run sub-5. I don’t know if he can jump, but it can’t be worse than me (running)."

BR: Why did you come to Nebraska?

Mayson: “I guess it’s the combination of location – I wanted to be close to my family – and the other schools I visited, Texas A&M and Wisconsin, were definitely far away. That, and the coaches are great and the facilities are obviously top-notch, too. Just a combination of those three things.”

BR: If you had to take a stranger to York for the first time, where would you go?

Mayson: “Definitely have to show them the water tower. It’s kind of the thing we’re known for. Whenever I say I’m from York, it’s, ‘Oh, water tower!’ I guess that, and I’d probably take them to a football game. We have a pretty special environment.”

Reach Brian at brosenthal@huskers.com or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.

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