Matt Chanay was not the prototypical track standout coming into the West Holmes track and field program his freshman year.
As a matter of fact, as West Holmes assistant coach Michael Ewing said of the Knights’ current senior, “He wasn’t one of those kids who you instantly thought would be great.”
Which is why his success story is that much sweeter.
On Saturday, May 22 at West Holmes High School during the district track meet, the senior continued to create a great story during his senior season by claiming not one, not two, but three spots at the Div. II regional meet.
Somehow, somewhere along the line, this unassuming kid who was kind of an afterthought coming into his career got good … really good.
This district meet may have been Chanay’s finest accomplishment to date. First, Chanay qualified for the finals in the 110-meter hurdles, where he zipped to third place in 16.26, securing his first spot at regionals.
“It was nice to get that first one out of the way and do it successfully,” Chanay said.
He then went directly to the pole vault pit, where he was given a bit of interesting news. The bar was set at 13-03. If he cleared that height, he would make it out of districts. Should he miss the height, he would fall into the dreaded fifth-place spot and miss out.
“It’s do or die at that point,” Chanay said. “Last year I was in the same position and got fifth. I was a little broken-hearted with that, so I came in this year determined to make it out. There were a lot of nerves to battle right there.”
Chanay never wavered and nailed the jump, and eventually he and Zach Love of Indian Valley would go to 13-08, where each would miss all three attempts, forcing a jump-off for first place. They both missed that height again with each getting one shot at clearing that height, and the bar went back down to 13-05. Chanay went first, cleared the bar nicely, and then Bell went. Bell, a freshman, hammered the bar, hard. It bounced, banged and jostled around, and even as he landed, Love knew he was very fortunate to have the bar remain on the standard.
Love grabbed his second life and eventually won the crown, but Chanay was moving on in the event at number two.
His final attempt came in the 300-meter hurdles, where he came away with one more great effort that saw him claim his final spot at regionals. He reeled off another third-place finish, running a 42.34 to complete the regional-qualifying trifecta.
Chanay said he wasn’t exactly sure what he was getting himself into when he entered the sport as a freshman. He only knew he was willing to work hard to get as good as he could at whatever he ran.
“I came in here, and everyone was so fast and so strong,” Chanay said with a laugh. “You look up to them and tell yourself you want to be them some day. Through the past four years I have put in a lot of work to get to where I am, and so have all of these seniors. This day, this means a lot to me.”
However, as always Chanay was as humble as ever and didn’t want his success to be anything about himself, but instead noted that it took the effort of many to get him where he is today.
“I think seeing how far I’ve come says a whole lot about our coaches too,” Chanay said. “The way they have worked for us for four years and the time they have put in to get us where we are today, I am very thankful to them that they were so willing to work to help us achieve so much.”
For a guy who came into the program with so little fanfare, Chanay is making a whole lot of noise as he ends what has become a tremendous career.”