Tucker Markko is a 2019 Unioto High School graduate, who will be competing in cross country and distance track events for Malone University.
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1) What were some of the highlights of your high school cross country and track careers?
My highlights were being able to accomplish my lifetime goal of being an individual All-Ohioan in cross country and indoor/outdoor track. Also, being able to watch and compete with my high school teams throughout the last few years, and see us grow into state level teams has been a great experience to me. I have been apart of three state qualifying teams, and all were regional runner-ups. For the most part they were made up of completely different athletes. It's been an amazing experience to work with so many different athletes and to watch them grow and get better.
2) Did you encounter any struggles or adversity along the way that you had to overcome?
The day of the district meet during my senior year I found out that I had a collapsed lung. Because of this I was unable to compete in my last high school post season. This news of course was devastating to me. I never expected this to ever happen. I had to watch my teammates compete in the tournament while sitting in the bleachers. I have started running again since then and can't wait to get back to racing this fall with Malone University. One thing I am grateful for during this event is that I have learned not to take running for granted. You can be running 60 miles a week and looking to win a couple district titles, and then you can be sitting in a hospital bed. If you would have told me a year ago that my last high school race would be a 4x400 meter relay at the district meet I would've been shocked. I have learned to not dread my runs, but to welcome them because you never know if it'll be your last one.
(Tucker Markko is looking for a big freshman year at Malone University following a senior high school track season that was cut short due to injury).
3) Aside from the competition, what was the best thing about being apart of Unioto's program?
Unioto High School has a very long and successful tradition. I have really enjoyed being a part of my school's history. Unioto has been to 16 out of the last 17 state championships.
Being able to see teammates, who aren't the most athletically talented, grow into state level competitors was really nice to watch. I have really treasured the memories that I have been able to make by going to this school.
The community that surrounds the Unioto distance program is amazing. All the help and support that they give to our teams was very much appreciated, and is a huge benefit to being a Sherman.
I have been able to have the privilege of having a head coach (Matt Paxton) who has helped me to achieve most of my goals, and have prepared me greatly for the next level. Watching how much dedication and time he puts into the program inspires all of his athletes to do the same thing. He is a testament to how hard work pays off.
4) Are there any coaches or teammates that you've worked with over the past four years that you'd like to thank?
There have been so many of my teammates that have supported and pushed me during my four years at Unioto. Being able to run workouts and races and have teammates there to support and help you is one of the biggest benefits of being on a good team.
A few of my teammates who have really helped me are Jonah Phillips (I've been to the state meet with him three times), Jaden Watkins, Eric Hacker, and David Magda. David was a huge part in helping me to become the leader that I am today. He was a senior when I was a freshman - he taught me about being a good leader and I really looked up to him.
Coach Paxton has done more for me then I'd ever be able to express. He pushed me to be the best version of myself every single day.
5) What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity?
I will be continuing my cross country and track career at Malone University next year. My biggest goals are to help get Malone back to the national meet and eventually win it. As an individual I would like to be an All-American
Malone University, much like Unioto, has really good coaches and a very long and successful history. Being able to learn from Coach Hazen and Coach Gremlich, as well as my older teammates, will be instrumental in my collegiate success and my growth as a person.
6) What advice would you give to a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?
My advice to younger athletes who are looking to have a successful high school career is to put in the work. You wouldn't believe how much a difference it is just to run everyday.
My sophomore year I skipped many days of running and cheated myself a lot. Consequently, I ended up having a very unsuccessful year. My junior year I pulled out all the stops and bought in completely to my coaches training. I went from thirty-sixth in the region in cross country to sixteenth in the state, and also from ninth in the region to fifth in the state in track.
The second piece of advice I can give to underclassmen is that if you want to be the best you can be you have to put in extra work. You have to do things that not even your coaches are asking of you outside of practice. Whether it be hydrating, sleeping, extra stretching or doing ab workouts by yourself. At the end of the day the person who puts in the most work will be the most successful.
The last piece of advice I have is that things don't always go right, and that's ok. What I mean by this is that a lot of times in running you will have a bad workout, or you will run a bad race, and that's ok. I have learned more from the races that I have failed in then the ones I've succeeded in. There is no way I would be where I am today without all the failure I've endured in my high school career. Things don't always go well and you don't always win, but if you welcome failure as a way to get better you will indeed get better.