David Whaley had never participated in high jump during a track meet.
He didn’t have the proper technique of arching your back over the bar, nor did he know if he would clear a bar or not.
However, it all worked out, as the newly turned high jumper cleared the 5-foot mark, which was good enough for first place in the Anderson County meet last Thursday night.
“I was just hoping that I would make it and get over it,” Whaley said with a smile. “I was just praying to get over it.
“I just couldn’t believe that I’d made it over. I was so excited.”
Instead of using the arched back method of clearing the bar, Whaley instead went for the scissor kick.
The technique is used for many high jumpers to warm up, usually only clearing low heights.
For head coach Jason Swiney, only the word “incredible” could describe the jump.
“That kid’s just a pure athlete,” Swiney said. “He came out here one day and just wanted to try it. I said, ‘Give it a shot, buddy.’ He’s a natural. We’ve got to work on his form. If we get his form down, the sky’s the limit. The sky’s the limit.”
Clearing 5-foot as a scissor kicker is impressive, but should Whaley get his form down, things could get lofty.
Swiney said he’s even been lobbying for Whaley to play basketball.
“He’ll probably be a 6-foot high jumper by the time he’s in eighth grade,” he said. “I told (head coach Cody Parker) he needs to get (Whaley) on the basketball team if he’s jumping that high. I really think he has the possibility to reach 5-10 by the time he’s out of middle school.”
However, high jump wasn’t the only thing Whaley excelled in.
He also ran in the 4x100 and the 4x200.
In both races, Whaley ran the third leg, where he extended Jacksboro’s lead. He handed off to Aaron Frederick, who cleaned things up down the stretch for the Eagles.
“I just hope to make up the time, and then I know he’ll get us there,” Whaley said. “Anything we can do to beat the other teams.”
Jacksboro took first in both races, running a 53.99 in the 4x100. In the 4x200, they crossed the line in 1:56.43.
In both, Frederick took the baton, leaving only a race for second place behind him.
“(Frederick’s) our strength,” Swiney said. “He’s one of our lone eighth grade sprinters we have, and he’s taking a lot of the burden for this team.”
According to Whaley, however, they also had another trick up their sleeve.
“Our handoffs were solid,” he said.
For their head coach, that’s the most important part of the race.
“I spend a lot of time on handoffs,” Swiney said. “In North Carolina, where I coached track and got into it, we really worked on handoffs in relays. We can make up a lot of time in that zone where we hand off. Three exchanges, you can make up a lot of time and distance. I preach that over and over, from day one to every practice that we work on.”
It shows, as Jacksboro took first place in two of the four relays on the boy’s side.
The girls, however, took first in all four relay events at the Anderson County meet.
Both the 4x100 and the 4x200 girl’s teams though they’d broken a record.
However, official times showed they were just seconds off.
“It was very disappointing, especially after we’d told everybody that we had broke it,” third leg, Tylee Torres said. “We were off by like three seconds. We’ll get it by the end of the year. We’ll get it.”
“We’ve improved a lot, so far, from the first race until the second,” teammate Morgan Simpson echoed. “I’ll think we’ll get the record by the end of the year.”
For Swiney, missing those records weren’t that disappointing.
However, he could tell the teams, Drew Leach, Sydney McCreary, Mackenzie West, Torres and Simpson, were a little upset.
“I told them the weather was a little rough, and it’s just our second meet,” Swiney said. “We’re going to keep getting better and better as the season goes on.”
The only regret, Swiney said, was finishing second in both boys and girls to LaFollette.
“Second is not good enough for us,” he said. “We want first. That’s our goal. We’re going to keep working and getting better and better.