Prep Track and Field: Mason to Lees-McRae
By Mike London
Baseball’s loss was track and field’s gain.
Carson High School graduate Tyler Mason will continue his education and his career as a thrower this fall at Lees-McRae College, a NCAA Division II school in Banner Elk.
The burly Mason, 6-foot-1, 315 pounds, was into football, basketball and baseball as a youngster and had not given track a second thought. But then he was cut from the baseball team at Erwin Middle School.
That’s when Erwin track coach Glenn Snowden introduced Mason to the shot and discus.
“Coach Snowden wanted me to give track a try and I liked it,” Mason said. “I still hold the Erwin record for the discus.”
Mason’s throwing development has continued at Carson.
“I was throwing with only a half spin until my junior year, but I’ve learned a lot from my teammates,” Mason said. “Now I throw with a full spin.”
Mason once was the third thrower for the Cougars, tacking on points to those scored by powerful teammates MyQuon Stout (a 3A state champ in the shot put) and Tre Williams.
But Mason emerged as a standout in his own right as a senior.
“He was in the shadow of really good throwers,” Carson coach Robert Marchinko said. “This year was his time to step up and be the man for us and he did that.”
Mason won the discus in the Rowan County Championships with a personal best of 139 feet, 1 inch. He placed second in the county to North Rowan’s Alexis Archie in the shot put.
In the South Piedmont Conference championships, Mason won the shot and placed second in the discus.
At the 3A Midwest Regional in Matthews, Mason took second in the discus and fourth in the shot put, qualifying for the state meet in both events.
In the state meet at Greensboro in May, he placed seventh in the shot put with a throw of 46 feet, 7 inches — four inches short of the personal record he set in a meet at West Rowan.
The discus didn’t go well at the state meet. Mason loaned his discus to one of the other competitors and it sustained some damage.
“The state wasn’t a good meet for me, but I still look at the discus as my best event,” Mason said.
Marchinko and Lees-McRae track coach Ley Fletcher have known each other since the 1990s when Marchinko was coaching at Pfeiffer and Fletcher was coaching at Coker. Marchinko put in a phone call to Fletcher recommending Mason. That led to Mason getting an opportunity to compete in college.
“It was two or three weeks before school was out when the track coach called and wanted me to come up there to Lees-McRae for a visit,” Mason said. “I like the mountains, so it felt right to me.”
Marchinko describes Mason as “a pleasant kid,” and he’s pleased he helped find a college that fits him.
“Division II track is starting to take off, and Tyler should do well for Lees-McRae,” Marchinko said. “He’s going to be close to his friend, MyQuon, up there. He can go see MyQuon’s football games at Appalachian State. That was a factor for him.”
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