AUSTIN — Even Mother Nature couldn’t defeat Kyle Lindsey Saturday at the UIL state track and field meet.
Lindsey, a Stephenville High School senior, battled past near-elimination and didn’t let rainy conditions hold him back as he won the Class 4A boys state high jump championship and gold medal in dramatic fashion with a height of 6 feet, 10-1/4 inches.
Lindsey was competing along with SHS girls qualifiers Shayden Toof (ninth in triple jump) and Landri Withers (seventh place in long jump) in the meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas. The Class 2A, 4A and 6A boys and girls competed Saturday, and the Class A, 3A and 5A events were on Friday.
Not only did Lindsey capture the crown, he broke the school record for that event, which was held by his best friend, former SHS athlete Blake Aragon. Two years ago when Aragon was a junior he earned the state high jump gold medal with a height of 6-10.
Lindsey found himself on the verge of elimination when he had more misses than a competitor from Vernon, Anthony Garza, at 6-8. But Lindsey cleared that height on his third try, and that was the limit for Garza, who missed all three of his attempts at 6-9.
SHS boys head track and field coach Kreg Kimple said someone else was also thrilled that Lindsey won with a school-record height.
“Blake was as excited as anybody,” Kimple said. “Blake had both fists in the air.”
Despite rain that began during the event and was becoming increasingly hard, Lindsey told meet officials that he wanted to keep going beyond 6-9.
What he didn’t tell them was that he wanted to break Aragon’s record.
When asked later by the E-T what he was thinking, Lindsey said, “I thought this was my last high school experience in sports, so I wanted to stay out there as long as I can and cherish these moments.”
And, as the saying goes - sorry - not sorry.
“The school record was held by my best friend, so a goal of mine was to beat him,” said Lindsey, who spoke to Aragon Friday night for some good-natured challenge talk.
On Saturday, Aragon — who just completed his freshman year at Texas State University, where he plays football — was at the state meet to congratulate his friend in person.
“He was at the hotel last night,” Lindsey said of Aragon. “He was my mentor type. We always kind of clicked.”
Lindsey’s mark could potentially stand as the all-time SHS record for a long time. It was far above that of last year’s 4A boys state champion, Stafford’s Kenneth Bodwin, whose winning height was only 6-6.
Remarkably, Lindsey’s previous personal-best in the high jump was 6-8, and his regional title in Lubbock was earned with a 6-6.
“He went out and PR’d by over two feet,” Kimple said. “He did a fantastic job, and he did it on the most important day. He’s peaked at the right time, and just did a fantastic job.”
Lindsey had persevered through a series of injuries that had kept him from advancing in track and field that past two years. As a freshman, he had dreamed of being a school record holder in a different event.
“My main goal was to get in the record books in the (300-meter) hurdles, but I’m glad to do it in the high jump,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey had previously given a verbal commitment to play football at Cisco College, but recently has received interest from Tarleton State University also as a high jumper.
Kimple is retiring from coaching at the end of the school year, so having two state high jump champions in the last three years was a nice Yellow Jacket going-away gift.
“He deserved it. I’m really proud of him,” Kimple said, whose high jump specialty coach Shay Douglas worked with Lindsey every day in practice, and seemed even more excited outwardly than he did. Douglas, the head volleyball coach at SHS and a former state champion as a member of the Honeybee softball team, was there to give Lindsey a high-five and a hug on the infield after it was over.
Lindsey said earlier in the track season that he believed he might be able to clear 6-10 on his best day. But despite the tricky footing in the rain, Lindsey said he thought he might have gone even higher if the conditions had been perfect.
“I felt pretty good today. I think maybe if it was dry, it could have been different,” Lindsey said. “The rain definitely was a factor. In my mind, I just knew I was the last jumper (with Garza out), and there was no reason to get nervous.”
Unlike Lindsey, both of the SHS girls state track qualifiers still could earn their way back to the state meet next year to test their limits next season.
SHS girls head track coach Jeremiah Butchee loves pondering that possibility as well.
“I can't tell you how proud I am of Shayden and Landri for their preparation, effort and performance at the state track meet,” Butchee said. “Making the state track meet is special and to make it two years in a row like Shayden did is flat out amazing especially battling back from all the injuries she faced at the beginning of the season.
“As for Landri, competing at the state track meet as a freshman is an incredible feat and being able to hit a jump that she had only been able to do one other time her whole life just shows the kind of competitor Landri Withers is. The sky is the limit for her.
“Both of these Honeybees are fierce competitors and represented their school and community at the highest level. I can't wait to see what they accomplish next year!”
Toof, a junior, was making her second consecutive appearance at the state meet in the triple jump. She had placed eighth a year ago as a sophomore, when she jumped 36 feet, 2-1/4 inches.
This year Toof’s best mark in the state meet was 36-0 1/4. Eighth place was 36-8 1/2 by Tania Lee of Burkburnett. The triple jump champion, Honestee Holman of Silsbee, won with a mark of 38-10 1/4.
Withers, a freshman, posted a long jump of 17 feet, 1-1/4 inches. Sixth place was 17-4 1/4 by Brianna Brand of Kennedale. The long jump gold medal went to another Kennedale athlete, Alexis Brown, at 19-8 3/4.