With a sprained neck, the state meet wasn’t an option.
So, to break the Class 2A state meet record Saturday with a 13 feet, 3 inch jump, he said, was “sweet.” The previous state meet record was 12 feet, 5 inches, set last year by Mobile Christian’s Christopher Phillips. Austin’s teammate, William Newman, placed third with a jump of 11 feet, 6 inches.
“I wanted to win,” Austin, a junior, said. “I injured my back this year, so haven’t been able to compete much.”
At Memorial Stadium in Selma, the AHSAA had its 1A, 2A and 3A championship meets Friday and Saturday. The Montgomery Academy girls won Class 2A.
Drake McGowin was part of that win. And she, too, broke a state meet pole vaulting recording with a jump of 9 feet, 3 inches, breaking the 2003 record of Altamont’s Elaine McGlaughlin.
The MA senior has won four consecutive pole vaulting state titles. She won the first three in 3A. This year, in 2A. She also won the pole vault at the indoor meet in 2012.
Her teammate Kacky Starke finished second on Saturday with a 9-foot jump.
For McGowin, the win, and the girls state title, provided mixed emotions.
“I think the best part about today was receiving the state trophy,” she said. “That was exciting. I learned so much from my coaches … and the lessons they taught us. Coach (Kevin) Weatherill tells us to run for our teammates and not just ourselves. The lessons I’ve learned from everyone else probably is the most rewarding part of track for me.”
Austin has one more year on the MA team. Before Saturday, his best jump was 12-9.
“It’s kind of like in the 100, improving by like a second,” he said, explaining how difficult it is to improve a jump by several inches. “It’s hard to do. You just kind of get lucky sometimes. Practice really helped.
“Hopefully I can keep doing it next year.”
Austin started jumping in eighth grade, but became serious about the sport when MA brought in a pole vault coach the following year. “I just kept improving,” he said. “I’d like to get 15 (feet). I’m also doing indoor track next year, so hopefully I’ll receive more time vaulting and improve it. I’d have to stay on the pole longer, get stronger faster.”