LAMPASAS – Shonderius Howard and Steven Jazdyk planned to be at state together. They expected it would be their last meet as teammates.
Turns out, it is only the beginning.
The pair of Lampasas standouts will conclude their high school careers this weekend at the Class 3A State Track & Field Meet at Austin with each looking to earn a highly-coveted gold medal.
After both came up short at last year’s state meet with Howard producing his second consecutive silver-medal showing in the high jump and Jazdyk finishing fifth in the pole vault, the Badgers made it a point to return in their senior seasons.
“We built off each other during the summer,” Jazdyk said. “I would tell Shon that I really needed help with something, and he’d be like, ‘Well, I need to work on my sprints and my explosion.’ We just built off each through the summer while training and got better.
“Our goal was to get to state together two years in a row, and we accomplished it.”
This upcoming trip to Mike A. Myers Stadium was supposed to be the culmination of their time as teammates, but fate rearranged their plans.
Jazdyk committed to Oklahoma as a decathlete on National Signing Day in February, and after Howard placed second at the Texas Relays in late March, clearing 6 feet, 11 ¾ inches, the Sooners began clamoring to scoop up the Badgers’ high jumper as well.
The situation was simply too good to pass up, and on April 30, Howard signed a letter of intent with Oklahoma.
“I never had any idea OU would be looking at me,” Howard said. “All of it happened pretty quickly, and now we are here. It is great to have Steven back at state with me, and I just want to see him do good things.”
In addition to entering his second state meet with the seventh-best seed mark in the pole vault (15-0), Jazdyk also will be competing in the 100-meter dash after posting a time of 10.68 at the Region I-3A meet.
Despite competing in two events scheduled to start within approximately two hours of each other, Jazdyk is confident he will be prepared for each. The Class 3A boys pole vault is set to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, while the 100 will start at 1:05 p.m.
“If it comes down to it, I’ll go run the 100 and then come straight back to vaulting,” he said. “That is just part of track. … I don’t think it will affect me that much.”
Howard, who owns the school record in the high jump, is situated in a three-way tie for the second-best seed mark in the event at 6-8, but he knows it will take much more to finally emerge with a gold medal.
“I have to have the best meet of my life, hands down,” Howard said. “In my best meets, I’ve had 6-10s and 6-11s, but that is not going to get it done. Class 3A is too competitive this year, and this is going to be way different than any other track meet I’ve been to.”
The Class 3A high jump is scheduled to begin Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Although the plan is leave Lampasas with state gold hanging from their necks, the pair is simply pleased life worked out the way it did, allowing them to continue competing together at the collegiate level.
Badgers head coach Gus Ortiz knows the opportunity is rare.
“In football, you may get a couple of kids go to the same college, but in track, there are less scholarships available,” he said.
“For OU to want both of those young men is exciting the community and our athletic program, but they have worked very hard to get to the point where schools are looking at them.”