Getting off a solid first attempt was the key strategy Tristen Dagenais had entering Friday’s Class 4A boys high jump competition at Cessna Stadium.
Clearing the next height early not only put pressure on the rest of the 16-man field, but it’s also the tiebreaker should multiple competitors finish with the same mark.
The Andale senior not only made each height on the first attempt while there was anyone else left jumping with him, but he didn’t have to worry about a tiebreaker, either.
Setting a personal best by clearing 6-foot-6 on his first go, Dagenais slid over 6-8 on his third and final attempt to lock up his first state title.
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“I knew our coach kept telling us first attempts are huge at states,” he said. “I won it with 6-6 and (Spring Hill’s Patrick) Ewing got it on his second, so I knew I had it, but I went for 6-8 and got it. It felt great.”
With five jumpers clearing 6-4 to remain in the hunt for the crown, Dagenais was the only one to break 6-6 on his first go — or his second. Ewing, next-to-last in the order, popped over the height to give Dagenais someone to move to the next step with.
Andale jumps coach Dylan Schmidt liked the execution he saw out of his senior, who still had the long jump yet to come on Friday, another chance to earn some valuable team points in the chase for the team title.
“I knew he could make 6-6,” Schmidt said. “To make 6-8 is unbelievable. He’s been kind of banged up throughout the year, so we’ve had to back off training a bit at times, but he’s just a competitor.
“His first attempt at 6-6, I watched it and said, ‘Wow, that’s a 6-8 jump,’ and obviously he was able to put it together. He’s a stud.”
With Dagenais the only one remaining after 6-8, he got to choose the next height. After a long-distance conference across the track with Schmidt, the duo decided on 6-9, a mark it seemed he could clear with some ease if it was similar to his third attempt at 6-8.
After making a slight adjustment to his starting mark, he took his familiar run up the right side, but clipped the bar with his leading shoulder and came off the mat holding his lower leg.
Dagenais got a look from the medical staff and another meeting with his coach before getting back to the runway. He took another run at the bar, but pulled up short when he didn’t feel 100 percent, making the smart decision with another event still on his docket.
“He’s long jumped 21-2 and some change, so we want to make sure he’s good to go for that,” Schmidt said. “If he doesn’t hurt his foot there, who knows what he does with 6-9? He’s a kid that jumped 5-2 as a freshman, so just goes to show you that he’s willing to work hard at it and get after it.”