The liftoff just wasn’t quite there for defending Class 4A state high jump champion Blake Aragon Friday in Austin.
Aragon, a 6-foot, 5-inch Stephenville High School senior, managed to jump 6 feet, 4 inches in his event at Mike Myers Stadium, which tied for sixth place in the competition with Anthony Garza of Vernon.
The winning jump was 6-6 by Kenneth Bodwin of Stafford. Second place, Ronnie Jackson of Navasota, also reached 6-6, but took home the silver medal based on the number of misses at that height.
Third place and the bronze medal went to Andric Herrera of Fort Stockton, who also jumped 6-4. Two others who also jumped 6-4 placed fourth and fifth ahead of Aragon, based on fewer misses at that height.
On Saturday, Stephenville’s two state girls qualifiers competed in their events, with junior Bailey McBee finishing sixth in the 100-meter hurdles and sophomore Shayden Toof taking eighth place in the triple jump.
A year ago, Aragon won the state title with a high jump of 6-8, which was also the height he reached two weeks before this year’s state meet when he won the Region I-4A meet for the second year in a row.
When Aragon won the gold medal last year, he became Stephenville’s first track and field state champion on the boys side since 2001.
“I felt like I didn’t jump the best I could,” Aragon said of this year’s meet. “It didn’t seem like I had the pop on my last step. Some days you have a bad day.
“My first jump felt good. My second jump, I didn’t have that explosiveness. It was not there that day.”
Aragon needed to finish with a jump of at least 6-6 to medal.
SHS high jump coach Joe Carter said not repeating was tough on Aragon, but he gave it a strong effort.
“His effort was fine,” Carter said. “It seemed like he just had a bad day. It seemed like the ‘pop’ we had seen in his last few meets wasn’t there.
“He’s had a great career. He’s still a state champion, and you can’t take that away from him.”
Aragon, a multi-sport standout (football, basketball and track) who is headed to Texas State University in San Marcos this fall on a football scholarship, had his SHS track teammates in mind, including two other Yellow Jacket high jumpers who are expected to compete again next season.
“Hopefully, there will be more high jumpers to come (to the state meet) — Kyle Lindsey and Kendall Storrs,” Aragon said, adding that boys track coaches Kreg Kimple and Carter “told me they appreciated me for all the hard work. But I made it back.”
McBee posted a time of 14.90 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, which was her second-best time ever in the event.
Ally Henson of Houston Yates won the event with an all-time Class 4A state record time of 14 flat. She was followed by silver medalist MaKenzie Hale of Huntington (14.51) and Megan Daley of Fredericksburg (14.75) taking the bronze.
Toof’s triple jump of 36 feet, 2 1/4 inches was good for eighth place. Like McBee, it was her second-best all-time in that event.
The gold medal went to Malaiya Jedkins of Navasota, at 39-9. Second place went to Gabrielle Thomas of Leander Glenn (39-4 1/2) and third was Montierra Warren of Waco La Vega (38-4 1/2).
“An athlete’s first time in Austin can be overwhelming but not for Bailey and Shayden as they posted their second best time and distance in the biggest competition of their careers,” SHS head girls track coach Jeremiah Butchee said. “As would be expected the competition was fierce with a 4A state record 14.00 winning the 100 hurdles and a 39-9 winning the triple jump.
“The great news for these young Honeybees moving forward is that they are both capable of reaching that level and now have the experience to bring to Austin the next time around.”