Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 12, 2014

Speaks excited about 'jump' to UPike

Zack Klemme
The Independent

RACELAND — MaKenzi Speaks distinguished herself at last spring’s Class A, Region 7 and state track and field meets.

The Raceland senior will have the opportunity to do the same thing next year in the burgeoning program at Pikeville, with whom she signed a letter of intent on Friday.

Speaks’s letter of intent was actually with the Bears’ cross country program, but she figures to also compete in track and field. The Bears have just four women’s athletes in a track program that coach John Biery estimated “is about four years old.”

“She’s gonna do high jump, long jump, whatever she wants,” Biery said. “We have four girls in track and signed two more, so it’s wide-open ... I look for high jump to be her strongest event.”

Speaks, for her part, called it a load off to have the signing completed relatively early in her senior track season, and thinks Pikeville as a school and community will be a good fit for her.

“It’s just a small school like Raceland is, and I feel like everyone is pretty much a family there also,” she said, “and I just feel really comfortable going there.”

Last spring in the region track meet, Speaks won the high jump, clearing 4 feet, 8 inches, and took home second place in the long jump, pole vault and triple jump competitions as the Lady Rams placed second as a team.

Speaks went on to tie for eighth at the state meet in the high jump with a performance of 4 feet, 10 inches, as Raceland’s only point scorer in Louisville.

This past fall, Speaks finished 17th in the region cross country meet in 24:52.84. The Lady Rams were again second in the region.

So Speaks is perhaps more decorated at the high school level in track than in cross country, but she will also participate in Pikeville’s more established cross country program.

“She’s gonna excel at both,” Biery said. “She’s just a good athlete. We look forward to getting her on campus, and next year I think I’ll have seven girls who will run between 20 and 21 minutes for a race, so it’s gonna be excellent.”

Speaks also played on the volleyball team this past season that won Raceland’s first 16th Region Tournament title in program history, going 35-5 and 25-1 against region opponents.

Speaks had six kills in the Lady Rams’ loss to Logan County in the opening round of the state tournament.

Earlier this school year, she was named the Wendy’s High School Heisman winner among female athletes at Raceland.

Speaks said she plans to pursue either a nursing degree, or “get my business degree and open a salon.”

ZACK KLEMME can be reached at zklemme@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.