Heading into the Smith-Cotton Invitational on Tuesday at Jennie Jaynes Stadium, S-C freshman Keoni Hale had never high jumped in competition. Told by his coaches he was going to be jumping, Hale made the most of it, clearing 6-0 to take second place.
“They just asked me to come out and do it and I did,” he said. “Whatever the coaches tell me to do, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Hale did not have a lot of time to work on his technique.
“At practice (Monday) I tried it once and then that was it,” he said.
In first place was teammate Chance Johnson. The sophomore who cleared 6-1 at last year’s sectional and reached 6-4 in a meet last week had some advice for Hale on how to approach the event.
“He told me how to bend my back and get your legs up,” Hale said. “It’s kind of hard for me because I’ve never experienced it before.”
Hale feels pretty good about his first shot at the event and thinks if he continues to work at it he can get pretty good at it.
“I thought he had an amazing day and I’m really proud of him,” Johnson said. “He has tons of potential.”
Johnson said the key for a first-time high jumper was to “just listen to the coaches and focus and they will make you better.”
After clearing 6-2, Johnson went to 6-5 and had a good chance to clear that.
“I had a good attempt at it, my legs just nicked it,” Johnson said.
Calvert’s winning ways
Smithton’s Isaac Calvert won the 3200 at the Smith-Cotton Invitational and took second in the 1600 behind Smith-Cotton’s Taylor Gilliam, a race Calvert briefly led during the third lap.
Calvert has had a lot of success in those two races this season. He also won the 3200 and was second in the 1600 at the Husker Relays and won both events at the Versailles Relays and the Santa Fe Relays.
“Overall it’s been a lot better than my past seasons,” he said. “Running more at practice has helped. It’s just overall been a good year.”
His time in the 3200 on Tuesday was 10:47.36, slightly slower that many of his times in meets this season, though it came on a cinder track.
“I’ve been running constant 10:34-10:40, around there,” he said.
A time of 10:30 not only would have sent him to state last spring, it would have been good for 10th place in the Class 2 state meet. That is the meet Calvert has his eye on this spring.
“My coaches want me to at least get past districts,” he said. “We bumped up a district last year so it’s been harder. After districts, we’ll see how it goes, but ultimately I want to go to state.”
In the pole vault, there is a lot of downtime as athletes wait for competitors who are entered in running events to make attempts at certain heights. Earlier in the season, standing and waiting was a chilly experience so two Smith-Cotton pole vaulters found a way to stay loose and keep warm.
Bailey Hendricks and Zac Volk put on a demonstration of kung fu moves.
“It takes our nerves down,” Hendricks said. “It gets us thinking about something other than pole vaulting. If you start thinking too much about it throws you off.”
They have broken out the moves for a few meets now, giving them something to do for 35 or 40 minutes while waiting to jump.
“It looks goofy but it really does warm you up quite a bit,” Volk said.
Volk said last year they would mostly sit around and talk before finding a more active way to pass the time this year.
“It was just throwing moves together and it happened to look like kung fu,” Hendricks said.
The two finished first and second at the Smith-Cotton Invitational as both cleared 11-6.
Volk was also getting used to a new pole, going from a 13-3 to a 14-3, using the new pole for just the third time on Tuesday.
“A foot on a pole is a lot to adapt to,” he said. “You have to be a lot more technical with it.”
Windsor hurdler Shelby Williams came away with a second-place finish and a pair of bloodied knees. Holding a lead in her heat, she tripped over the final hurdle and went to the ground.
“I strided out too far and I was tired,” she said.
Her 55.26 was second to Smith-Cotton’s Marionna Ward who finished in 51.62. Williams also took second in the 100 hurdles, though she said she’s better at the longer race.
Williams wasn’t alone in having problems on the final hurdle. In the boys 300 hurdles, Smith-Cotton’s Albert Nash caught his foot on the last hurdle, though he recovered in time to finish in 43.62, claiming first place.