After narrowly missing a state berth last season, Kentridge junior Tyler Cronk is the 4A boys state high jump champion.
His jump of 6 feet, 9 inches earned him the top spot on the podium Friday at Tacoma’s Mount Tahoma High School.
“I was kind of disappointed I didn’t reach the higher heights today,” the 6-foot-8 Cronk said after his win, an effort that was two inches higher than the nearest competitor, Walla Walla’s Mitchell Jacobson. “I thought I was going to go higher. Taking first feels good. It feels way better than last year not being able to go (to state).”
Cronk qualified for state this year with a 7-2 jump at the 4A West Central District meet on May 18, taking first place and breaking his own school record of 7-1 he set earlier in the season.
Nerves got the best of Cronk at the state meet.
“My hands were sweaty. … My hands were just shaking,” he said. “My legs were just tightening up. I had to do some buildups to just calm them down, calm myself down. When I missed the first height at 6-3 – I don’t know what I hit (the bar) with – but it was getting to my head. I just got to calm down and stay calm and jump.”
With state experience under his belt, Cronk is already looking forward to defending his title next year.
“I know next year will be way better,” he said. “I know that for sure.”
Kentridge coach Al Waltner said Cronk will continue to be an athlete to watch. Cronk entered the state meet as the third ranked high jumper in the country, according to Athletic.net.
“How often do you get kid who is ranked nationally?” Waltner said. “Now people are going to know about him because going 7-2 is a decent jump. Colleges are starting to write him letters, and in July, they can start calling him. It opens up a lot of opportunities for him.”
Kentwood junior Destiny Capers took third in the 4A girls discus on Friday – her first year competing in the event.
Alexia “Bebe” Thomas, Capers’ cheer squad and track and field teammate, got Capers started in the sport.
“Throughout our season for cheer and up to track, she has been motivating me,” Caper said. “(She thought) ‘I might as well try it’ and I guess this is me trying it.”
Capers wasn’t sure how she’d do in the state meet.
“I guess it was just coming in here worrying about myself and not worrying about other people,” she said. “I definitely hoped I would place but I wasn’t going to think, ‘Yes. I am going to win.’ It was definitely fate right there.”
Capers took seventh place in the discus in the district meet last week. She also qualified for districts in shot put and javelin.
In addition to cheer and track and field, Capers is involved with Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) and plans to try out for volleyball in the fall.
Capers hopes her first-year success carries over to next season.
“I am definitely going to see how next year’s season goes, and hopefully, it brings back a first (place),” she said.
Kentridge’s Kierra Scott delivered a personal-best 37-3½ to finish sixth in the triple jump finals Thursday.
Kentlake’s Jordan Fong tossed the javelin 129-4, a personal record, to take fourth. She added a sixth in the discus.