COLUMBIA FALLS — Columbia Falls sprinter Malaki Simpson broke the school record and set the fastest time in all of Montana for the 200 meters at the Russ Pilcher Top 20 in Missoula. Despite the impressive feat for the junior he’s still hungry for more.
"I mean it was amazing," said Simpson. "Being able to break the school record and win Top 10 at the same time, it felt amazing."
It was Simpson’s lighting-quick time of 22.05 seconds at Pilcher Top 10 that gave him both the current fastest time in the state as well as broke the school record by 0.5 seconds. And although now a top sprinter in the state, Simpson’s career almost never happened.
"I started in seventh grade and my science teacher didn't even ask me if I wanted to do track he just signed me up," said Simpson with a smile. "I went to practice and I guess I just started there."
While going into high school with minimal racing experience Simpson has made leaps and bounds since and made efforts to compete at indoor meets during the high school offseason.
"Into freshman year, I didn't really train outside of the season that much, I didn't really put too much thought into being able to see as far as State," said Simpson. "I didn't really look that far. But I mean going into seeing state my freshman year and being able to go and see how everything went down, it pushed me and made me want to try a little bit harder outside of the season."
When it comes to what he means to the Columbia Falls track and field program, head coach Jamie Heinz couldn’t be more grateful to have an athlete like Simpson.
"When you have someone like that in your program, what it does is it shows the younger kids, the freshmen, the sophomores, what it takes to be at that level," said Heinz. "And Malakai has worked very hard to get to where he's at."
Now in his 25th season coaching track and field at Columbia Falls, and having been the head coach for both boys and girls since 2007, Heinz knows Simpson’s influence and impact is more than he could ever ask for.
"His work ethic and his commitment rubs off on future generations and you know, kids want to be him," said Heinz. "These younger kids, they see him every day and they're like, you know, I want to be that kid."
"They see what he's doing, the time he's putting in, and the effort work he's putting in and that just lasts for years if you get those type of kids," said a grateful Heinz. "And Malaki is one of those kids that sets a great example, he's a great role model."
While only in his fifth year on the track, Simpson’s speed speaks for itself and he knows what it takes to have success.
"I’d say the most important thing is you gotta really enjoy what you're doing," said Simpson with a smile. "You can't just do it because you want to be the best, you really gotta have fun and really love what you're doing."
Simpson will be looking to carry his top speed into the postseason and attempt to bring home gold from Laurel when Class A state track is held there May 26-27.