Catholic Central track standout signs with Kentucky

Catholic Central's Mallory Mullen stands atop the podium after winning the Division III state championship in the high jump on Friday, June 4, 2021, at Westerville North High School. Photo courtesy of Catholic Central High School
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Catholic Central's Mallory Mullen stands atop the podium after winning the Division III state championship in the high jump on Friday, June 4, 2021, at Westerville North High School. Photo courtesy of Catholic Central High School

Catholic Central High School senior Mallory Mullen, a two-time state champion in the high jump, signed a national letter of intent Tuesday to compete for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Mullen’s signing ceremony took place in Jason Collier Gymnasium in front of hundreds of her fellow students and her family. She picked the University of Kentucky over Kansas Sate, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and South Carolina.

What were the deciding factors?

“Definitely the team and the connection I had with coach (Kris) Grimes,” Mullen said. “I just felt right there.”

Mullen visited Kentucky in October. She also took official visits to Ohio State, South Carolina and Penn State. On her visit to UK, she said, “I got to go to a football game. I got to go around and see the dormsand the track and got to see two practices and how the team interacts with the coaches during the practice.”

Mullen won the Division III state championship as a freshman, clearing 5-feet-7 inches. She didn’t get to compete as a sophomore because the season was cancelled by the pandemic. Last June, as a junior, she won the championship by reaching a Division III state-record height of 5-10¼ at Westerville North High School.

“I’ve been aiming for that record all year,” Mullen said at the time, “and I’m so happy I finally got it at the right spot: the state meet. That was exciting.”

Including all divisions, Mullen tied for the fifth-best height in state history. Taylor Burke, of Medina, set the record of 6-1¼ in 2011.

Mullen’s goal for her senior year is to clear 6 feet. She’s come a long way since she started jumping in seventh grade. A video of her first jumps played at her signing ceremony. She said it was “really embarrassing.”

“It was the least athletic thing I’ve ever seen,” Mullen said. “My coach was like, ‘Let me see what you have,’ and it was not a lot. He said we have work to do after that practice.”

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