If this is the end, Maya Cook wants to be standing as high as she can. 

This week will be the final time that the Mattoon High School senior stands in the shot put ring. After talking with Eastern Illinois University, Cook has decided to focus on academics at Lake Land College and pursue a teaching degree with the hopes of coaching track. 

With one more chance, she wants to finish on the podium as an All-Stater. 

Cook earned all-state status during the indoor season, taking fifth with a heave of 11.06 meters, or roughly 36 feet, 2.25 inches. 

Last year, Cook finished 12th overall at the state meet after recording her second longest throw of the season in the shot put at 36 feet, 8 1/4 inches.

This year, Cook’s best heave of 37 feet, 10 1/2 inches ranks 13th on the Class 2A leaderboards, while her sectional throw of 35-11.50 ranks 13th among sectional entries. 

“I am pretty confident that I can get in the top nine,” said Cook. “Being in 12th last year is going to push me to work even harder to correct my form to, hopefully, place higher this year.”

Cook owns a personal best throw of 39-3 during the indoor season on March 5 at the EIU Invitational. That throw would have her ranked ninth on the Class 2A leaderboards. With that said, Cook knows that you have to have just one good throw. Last year, Cook threw one foot and eight inches farther than her sectional throw, which helped her finish 12th overall. 

Having some extra competition should help. Cook has finished first place in all but one time this season, placing second at the Urbana Invite to Kankakee’s Nickell Johnson, who is ranked ninth in the state. 

In the end, Cook is pleased to compete again. 

“A lot of persistence, dedication and support all around me helped a lot to keep me on track,” said Cook. “I’m a competitive person so when I knew I was going to be up against someone good, I focused on the weeks leading up so I could do the best I could. Making it to state again this year means that my hard work and all the time I have put into practice is paying off.”

Cook said she will miss track and field after this season, but said competing in the sport have helped her prepare for the future. 

“I have already gained so many skills that I can use in the future,” said Cook. “I was able to create relationships, practice my leadership and communication skills, and so much more but I am most thankful for all of the friends I have made throughout this process.”