By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Senior trackman Mac Strunk is ready to get started. This is the third week of practice for the Port Isabel High track and field teams and the first meet of the new season is now only two weeks off.
The Press found Strunk stretching and warming up at Tarpon Stadium this week and he took time out to talk about how he’s approaching his last track season as a Port Isabel athlete.
“It’s been going good,” Strunk said Monday. “Everybody’s trying to get faster…and we’re all getting ready for the San Benito meet.”
As it was a year ago the San Benito meet is the first one on the schedule for Port Isabel. Last year though, due to very damp conditions, the Tarpon and Lady Tarpon teams opted not to compete at that one. So, for Port Isabel athletes, the first meet of the 2019 season turned out to be the Hog Relays at PSJA Southwest on February 15.
Strunk’s best race is the 200-meter dash and he took second that day with a personal-best time of 22.94 seconds. That was his last non-winning day in the 200-meters until the regional meet in May.
Beginning with the Tarpon Relays, the week after the PSJA S’West meet, Strunk won the 200-meters at seven straight meets, including the area meet at La Feria. At La Feria Strunk ran a personal-best time of 22.02 seconds and his gold medal perfor-mance there qualified him for the regional meet at Kingsville.
At regionals Strunk got off to a bad start in the 200 finals because his blocks slipped on him, and he ended up third at the wire. The top two finishers in each event qualify for the state meet. As it was Strunk’s time of 22.27 was only .09 seconds slower than the second-place finisher. In the prelims he posted a PR time of 21.99 and broke the 22-second barrier for the first time.
“It’s my last year so I’m just going to go all out. Last year my goal was to make state. This year, again, my goal is to go to the state meet.”
Strunk does not yet know where he ranks with the other top 200-meter sprinters in the region. Since no meets have yet been run this season no current times are available.
“We probably won’t know where I rank in the region until, maybe, March.”
Conditioning is very important so that’s where the emphasis is at this time of the year. Even so Strunk plans to give it all he has in every meet.
“You have to be careful. I take my stretching seriously. I don’t want to pull anything in the beginning of the season and possibly ruin the rest of my high school career.”
Last season Strunk also ran in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200-meter relays and qualified for the regional meet in those two events as well. He almost certainly will run those two races again this year and may even give the 100-meter dash a try.
“I don’t know yet – we haven’t worked on handoffs or anything yet. We’re still getting conditioned and seeing who’s going to show up and put in the work.”
Strunk also played football in the fall and finished last season on a bad ankle.
After football season ended, “I let my ankle heal … it’s all good now. I rested up for three or four weeks, then I started run-ning.”
Like most Tarpon athletes, Strunk maintains a high average in his classes.
“Last semester I made all A’s,” he said. His courses for second semester include Welding, English IV, Pre-Calculus, and Forensic Science. In addition he goes on police ride-alongs for two hours at a time. A career in law enforcement is a definite possibility.
A military career is also being considered. The Citadel and the Naval Academy have shown interest in Strunk and he may be offered a scholarship by one or both of those famous old military schools.
For now, though, Strunk has meets to prepare for and class work to get done.
“I’m excited. I’ll see where I am for the first meet, then keep progressing.”