By JESSE SMITHEY
Initially, Mason Collins joined the Farragut High School track & field team as a means to enhance his skill set for football.
Now it may just open up a whole new set of doors for his future.
Collins won the TSSAA Division I Large School decathlon Friday at Austin Peay State University, capturing the two-day event with a total of 6,594 points.
He became the first Farragut male track athlete to win a decathlon since Kevin Yeager won three consecutive decathlons from 1998-2000.
The 6,594 points earned by Collins on Friday just edged out Cookeville’s Stockton Owen (6,495) for the title.
Owen, like Collins, stars on the football field, as he was a quarterback at Cookeville High and has decided to play football for Brown in college.
Collins officially hopped on board with track & field in December 2019 and planned to compete during the spring of 2020.
He started the the long jump and then trickled into trying other events. And that’s when a coach suggested he try decathlon.
“I was like, ‘OK. I’ll give it a shot,” said Collins.
But the global Covid-19 pandemic erased any track & field plans Collins had.
Once high school sports returned, he dove back into football. After a successful junior season, Collins quickly had to get reacquainted with the decathlon events and learn the intricacies and techniques required.
Admittedly, it all felt pretty rushed, he said.
He handled it well, apparently.
Collins won three events (discus, pole vault, high jump) in the 2021 decathlon and finished third or better in seven of 10 events.
He claimed first in discus by 18 feet with a mark of 147-4. His pole vault mark of (12-6) was nearly a foot better than second place’s. And he tied Owen for the high jump lead at 5-11.5.
He slept on a 300-point lead after Day 1 and still managed to close out the win.
He’ll return next week to compete in the state track meet in the high jump, triple jump and long jump.
At this point, he is just wrapping up his junior year in school and is undecided on his college plan. It may be in football; Collins, in 2020, intercepted six passes and made 53 tackles as a defensive back. He’ll be one of the team’s top receivers this fall.
But his season-long ascent up the decathlon boards have raised a few eyebrows of college track & field coaches, too, he said.
“Last year, I pretty much did do (track) just to get faster at football. And then I started to realize that I was pretty good at most of the events,” said Collins.
“So, it’s led me to where I am now.”
ALCOA PLACES THREE IN SMALL SCHOOL DECATHLON
Alcoa’s Jude Green, Landon Ford and Braxton Baumann each placed in the top five of the Division I Small Class decathlon.
Brainerd’s Montez Deloney posted 5,395 points for the win; however, Green took second with 4,874.
Ford was fourth (4,724) and Baumann fifth (4,459).
Green won the 100-meter dash in 11.53 seconds.
Ford finished runner-up in the long jump and the high jump and was third in shot put.
Baumann won the discus at 119-06, nearly seven feet more than second place. He also won the shot put at 47-10, roughly eight feet more than the next competitor.