Stephenville’s chances at the Class 4A state track and field meet this Saturday depend on one senior, one junior and one freshman.
Kyle Lindsey, a senior who was also a standout as a receiver in football for the Yellow Jackets, won the boys high jump event at the Region I-4A meet in Lubbock to earn a trip to Austin for his debut at the state meet.
Junior Shayden Toof, the regional runner-up in the girls triple jump, will be making her second straight journey to the state meet.
The third SHS athlete set to to compete among the state’s best is Landri Withers, already a multi-sport varsity letterman as a freshman.
The SHS athletes all will have their events on Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.
The first SHS athlete to get into action will be Withers, with an 8 a.m. start in the long jump. Lindsey’s high jump event is set to start at 10 a.m. Toof’s triple jump event is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m.
The first day of the state meet will be Friday, featuring only the Class A, 3A, 5A and wheelchair categories. Saturday will have the events for Class 2A, 4A and 6A.
Lindsey’s second-place finish in the regional high jump event, 6 feet, 7 inches, wasn’t his best this season. He cleared 6-8 to win the area meet in Springtown, so he was the No. 1 seed entering the Lubbock regional.
His regional competition was tough enough to push him to equal the 6-8 posted by former teammate Blake Aragon in winning the 2017 state high jump title. As a senior last year, Aragon returned to state and earned a silver medal
“I knew going in it was going to be a battle,” Lindsey said. “I wasn’t going in expecting to win.
“It was overwhelming. I never thought I was going to state in anything.”
Lindsey has been on the varsity track team all four years in high school, but injuries spoiled his chances when he was a sophomore and again last year as a junior. As a freshman, Lindsey was on two relay teams for the Jackets that made it to regional.
Toof said she surprised herself by qualifying for state, even though she also made it in 2017 as a sophomore. Like Lindsey, she has been enduring injury problems this season.
“I haven’t been doing very good this year,” Toof said. “I’ve been battling shin splints.”
She also missed the first two track meets this season because of hip inflammation.
Toof credited the adrenaline she felt when she qualified for state as the regional runner-up with a distance of 37 feet, 6-1/2 inches. Her jump at last year’s state meet, 36-2 1/4, gave her an eighth-place finish.
“I feel like I’ve got more in me this year. I feel like I’m putting everything together,” Toof said, noting that she had sometimes psyched herself out with too much pressure going into meets.
“I’ll be more relaxed — not as worried,” she said.
One thing she has improved is her running speed on the approach.
“I wasn’t bringing enough speed to the board,” Toof said. “It was really getting me down all season.”
As a freshman, Withers has had a whirlwind season as she made the Honeybees’ varsity roster on both the volleyball and basketball teams. Now, she’s showing her talent as a long jumper.
“I’m blessed with the opportunity because I didn’t think I was going to go regional,” Withers said. “I was shocked and thankful, and I feel blessed because I know not everyone can go.”
Withers has set a goal for herself — while also knowing she may have three more chances to return to the state track meet as she gets older.
“I’m trying to get in the top three,” Withers said. “I think that would be cool to medal my freshman year. That’s my goal.”
Withers also said that adrenaline helped her in posting a long jump of 17-8 3/4 at the regional meet. She had been in first place until the final jump of the day in Lubbock.
“I had the shakes. I was really nervous,” Withers said. “I felt that adrenaline helped me. I just started crying because I was like so happy.”