BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
Stephenville has three athletes going for the gold at the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships being held in Austin this weekend including hurdler Bailey McBee and triple jumper Shayden Toof and defending state champion high jumper Blake Aragon.
For McBee and Toof this will be the first time they are stepping on the surface of the Mike Myers Track Complex but they aren’t starry-eyed and are focusing on the tasks at hand. Aragon may be taking the last jumps of his career as he prepares to play football after signing a letter of intent with Texas State.
“I would like to keep jumping,” Aragon said. “But, I think they are going to want me to put on a little more weight to play football.
Having been to the state meet before Aragon has approached this seasons meets all the same way and keeping to the routines that he knows work for him. Austin will be no different for him when it comes to how he prepares but there is one big difference at the state meet and that’s the competition is way better than what he’s seen all season.
“I always jump better when there’s more competition, Aragon said, “I like going against guys of my caliber and it pushes me to jump higher.
Aragon’s season marks bear witness to his thought on the competition driving him as he has consistently climbing toward his personal best 6-10 set last year. At the Region One meet Aragon went 6-7, or just high enough win first place.
McBee is a junior and has used the memory of finishing third at last year’s regional meet as motivation for this track season and the opportunity to run in the state meet.
“I know I work harder this year than I did last year,” McBee said. “I’ve been hitting the weights hard and lifting more. I’ve been working more on my starts, fine-tuning my rhythm and it’s been paying off.”
It didn’t hurt that she had Hailey Martin another regional qualifier in the 100-meters on her team. The two battled back and forth all season and in the end, it was McBee who won out.
Martin who qualified for regionals in both the 100-meter hurdles and triple jump also had a role in pushing Toof is a sophomore and the first jumper (triple or long) in coach Greg Kimple’s 15-year career at Stephenville to make it to state.
“There were times that I beat Hailey but for the most part she beat me,” Toof said. “It’s been about putting all the little things together mentally.”
Being the first triple jumper to make it to state in recent memory put Toof in some pretty elite company when considering Kimple’s career spans the Stephenville high school career of NFL safety Cody Davis who made it to regionals.
Aragon will be jumping at 4;30 pm Friday, McBee will run at 12:45 pm Saturday and Toof jumps at 2 pm Saturday.