The anticipation is slowly beginning to build.
Days before competing in the Class 3A State Track & Field Meet, Nicholas Meaders can feel the competition nearing.
“It’s a mix of being excited and nervous,” he said. “I’m getting ready to go.”
Gatesville’s senior pole vaulter has a lot to prove as he looks to close out his high school career with a gold medal that has eluded him since 2012.
As a sophomore, Meaders reached state, but did not produce a height. Since then, however, the Texas commit has refined his technique, developing into one of the state’s elite and breaking his own school record set earlier in the year by clearing 16 feet, 6 inches at the area meet.
Now, Meaders is eager to make a statement on the state’s biggest stage.
“Going back and jumping at a place where I have already jumped at always helps your confidence,” he said. “It is very important for me to win. It is what I’ve trained for this entire year.”
Meaders enters with the event’s third-best seed mark at 15-6, but he knows it will take a much stronger showing to thrive at state.
“It’s going to take anywhere from 16-6 to 17-6 or even higher to win,” he said. “It is within my reach, but it is going to take everything I’ve got.”
The Class 3A boys pole vault will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Along with Meaders, four Lady Hornets will be competing at Mike A. Myers Stadium located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.
Gatesville’s 1,600-meter relay team earned its spot by delivering a second-place showing at the Region I-3A meet, posting a time of 4 minutes, 4.78 seconds. In addition to wanting to emerge with gold medals, the quartet has its sights set on setting a school record.
In the regional preliminaries, the Lady Hornets fell one second shy of breaking the 1974 benchmark of 4:03 set by Carliss McNeely, Judy Kafer, Debbie Dickerman and Carla Winters.
For senior Robbie Clarke, setting a new school standard at state would be a dream come true.
“This is my last chance,” she said, “so it would mean so much to get my name on that board with the rest of my teammates.”
Teammate Jordan Brock agrees.
“It is a good time to get it,” freshman said. “We might as well do it at state.”
Unlike Meaders, none of the Lady Hornets have reached state in their careers outside of Sarah Hogan, who, as a freshman, competed at the Alaska state meet in the 400 relay.
Hogan is quick to admit it was hardly the spectacle it is in Texas.
“I made it to state in Class 4A, but it was more like running regionals here because Alaska is much smaller,” the junior said.
Considering the level of competition and the intense atmosphere, all four Lady Hornets confess to dealing with anxiety heading into their event’s start at 3:05 p.m. Saturday. To counteract their apprehension, the team is focusing on its mental approach in its final hours of preparation.
“We are working on running the right way,” Alli Richardson said. “We are just making sure we are relaxed and all this tension and excitement doesn’t just blow us up, especially for me because I’m a sophomore, and this is crazy.”
CLASS 3A STATE POLE VAULT
The field for Saturday’s 3A boys pole vault, with qualifying heights:
- Brandon Bray, China Spring 16-6
- Reese Thompson, Argyle 16-3
- Nicholas Meaders, Gatesville 15-6
- Gabe Meruelo, Henderson 15-6
- Colin Millsap, Canton 15-3
- Luke Jaroszewski, Geronimo Navarro 15-0
- Steven Jazdyk, Lampasas 15-0
- Colton Cohea, Sinton 15-0
- Riley Richards, China Spring 14-6