Out of nowhere

TIM JEAN/Staff photoAndover’s Michael Makiej, here clearing the bar on the way to victory in the high jump at the MVC Meet, has emerged as a star for the Golden Warriors.

ANDOVER — Just days into his track career, Andover junior Michael Makiej had an idea.

“Michael had been running long distance in winter track,” remembered Golden Warriors coach Peter Comeau. “He came up to me one day and said, ‘Coach, I’m a junior and I think I can be a pretty good high jumper.’ I told him that, if he thought he could do it, he could give it a try.”

Neither could have guessed, at the time, that Makiej would soon emerge as one of the premier high jumpers in Massachusetts.

On May 11 — just months after his first-ever track practice — Makiej won the elite Andover Boosters Meet high jump title with a leap of 6-foot-2.

Two weeks ago, Makiej set a new personal best with a jump of 6-4 on the way to winning the Merrimack Valley Conference crown.

And on Saturday, Makiej continued his breakout spring by taking sixth at the EMass. Division 1 championship with a jump of 6-0.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic!” said Makiej. “This is my first year of track, so this is really all that I know in the sport. I’m not sure I can even comprehend how amazing this is. But I know it’s amazing.”

For his first two years at Andover High, Makiej didn’t play any high school sports. Instead, he was focused on his work with the philosophy club and TV club.

“In philosophy club, each week, we would start with a broad topic like love or justice,” he said. “And we would talk about our thoughts and try to define the topic.

“In TV club, we would use the school’s equipment to compete in different film contests around America. Both clubs let me be creative and express myself in unique ways.”

Makiej also discovered an interest for recreational running and, last summer, decided to try running 5Ks.

“I decided to run a few for charity,” he said. “Then one of my friends encouraged me to try cross country. I went out of the team and liked it. At the end of the season, all the runners went on to indoor track, so I just naturally followed them and went along with it.”

Makiej began his first winter track season as a distance runner. But he soon caught the jumping bug.

“I played basketball growing up and I always loved jumping high and trying to dunk,” he said. “I heard there were tryouts for the high jump, and I wanted to give it a try. Right away I was jumping over 5-feet, and all the coaches were impressed. And it got better and better from there.”

Makiej scored his first big jump at the indoor Division 1 Meet, jumping 6-0 on the way to eighth place. But that was just the start.

He opened his stellar spring with a 6-0 for fifth at the Weston Twilight Invitational. He followed that by setting a new PR to take the Andover Boosters crown.

Then, just hours before heading to the prom on May 18, he won the title at his first MVC Meet.

“I really felt like I could make 6-4 that day because I was so close at Andover Boosters,” Makiej remembered. “I was going against the same kid (now-EMass. Division 2 champ Dom Britto).

“The tension was high. The bar was set to 6-4 and that caught everyone’s attention. I knew I had to make it over, I focused, and it was awesome. I wore my medal to the prom.”

While he has received most of his attention for the high jump, Makiej has also been the team’s top long jumper. He jumped 19-10.75 at a dual meet.

Having now discovered his new passion, Makiej hopes to keep raising the bar. And his coach believes the sky is the limit.

“It’s amazing,” said Comeau. “He just comes out to be with his friends, and he takes off. He’s taken it to another level. We’ve had some good high jumpers, but he’s different. I don’t think he ever really realized what a great athlete he is. But if you can clear 6-4, you are a great athlete. He has had a terrific spring.”

 ...

Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.

Twin name

Andover junior track star Michael Makiej had never played a high school sport before going out for cross country in the fall. But he is not the first with his name to be a Golden Warrior.

His cousin, also named Michael Makiej, was a varsity basketball player for Andover as a sophomore during the 2016-17 season. He then moved on to play prep basketball.

 

 ...

Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.

||||

This Week's Circulars