ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Orchard Park native Kegan Mancabelli is off to Eugene, Oregon, this week to compete in the Outdoor Nationals, a national track and field competition hosted for some of the best young athletes in the world.
Kegan credits his dad to helping him get there, if you saw their backyard, you would understand.
"My dad has done everything for me, everything he has done has been able to make me and my brothers better," Kegan said.
But, how he got to the big stage is a story of its own. Outside of qualifying through competition at Orchard Park High School, Kegan has been training most of his life as a track and field athlete, but it wasn't until COVID where things started to really pick up.
When the pandemic shut down in person gatherings, Kegan and his dad built their own training ground in the comfort of their backyard in Orchard Park. Because of the ease of access, and his dad's knowledge, Kegan grew leaps and bounds. The club that they run, the Mac Track and Pole Vault Club, also grew significantly.
Kegan felt the club started doing better after the pandemic hit because before the pandemic the club wasn't based in their backyard, but instead moved around to different schools.
"COVID boosted our club because we didn't have it in the backyard and during COVID we couldn't get to any schools and the club has grown exponentially since then," Kegan said.
His father Chuck runs the Mac Track and Pole Vault Club out of their backyard. He also coaches his son Kegan.
"He won the indoor state championship in pole vault and he won the outdoor state championship in pole vault. I think he has done it quietly and humbly, he is a great sportsman and a great scholar, and he is a great kid. I am very proud of everything he has done," Chuck said.
Kegan says the challenge of qualifying for the event in Eugene to compete on the national stage is a sense of accomplishment of its own, regardless of where he finishes. His mentality is to just go out there Thursday and Friday and enjoy it as much as possible.
"There is one more thing I could qualify for but it is the same day as my graduation. There is a U20 championship next week and I need to hit a certain score but I am not focused on that, I am going out there to have fun," Kegan said.
You can track Kegan's performance here as he competes in Eugene.