Kyle Stifflemire did not want a gold medal. He wanted to contribute.
While the Copperas Cove pole vaulter is always looking to dominate the field, Stifflemire’s intentions entering Wednesday’s District 8-6A meet did not include earning the title of champion or adding another piece of hardware to his growing collection.
Regardless, it happened.
Stifflemire cleared 15 feet to easily capture first place by 2 feet at Leo Buckley Stadium and take one step closer to reaching next month’s state meet.
Following the victory, however, the junior admitted personal success is not his motivation.
“It feels pretty good to win,” Stifflemire said, “but it feels even better that I scored as many points as I could to help my team out.
“Every time I compete is an opportunity to get better, and I want to get better for my team.”
Stifflemire, who recently placed second at the Texas Relays with a school-record height of 16-2, spearheaded a dominant showing by the Bulldawgs in the event as teammates Tim Doyle (13-0) and Darious Fuselier (12-6) were second and fourth, respectively.
Brady Shadrick, of Belton, was third.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the area meet April 19 at Waco Midway’s Panther Stadium.
Additionally, senior Daveon Thomas qualified for Copperas Cove in discus with a second-place throw measuring 168-8, and teammate Neyland Block (6-2) won the high jump.
Three Harker Heights athletes are moving on after senior Dillon Gooding placed third in the high jump, clearing 6-0, while Lady Knights teammates Jada Dye (16-4½) and Kayla Brown (34-11) each placed fourth in the long jump and shot put, respectively.
Belton dominated the girls 3,200-meter run behind first-place Jordan Jones, who won with a time of 12 minutes, 11.70 seconds. Jones’ teammates Nadia Meyer (12:26.88) and Michaela Decker (12:47.92) finished second and third.
The Lady Tigers’ Tiarra Hodges won the long jump (16-9¾) with Ellison’s Amiyah Willis (16-5½) also advancing to area with a third-place leap.
Cherith Hicks, of Shoemaker, won the shot put by more than 5 feet, posting a throw measuring 41-2¾ to beat Belton’s Delany Presley
(36-2). The Lady Grey Wolves also claimed third place thanks to Tava Williams’ heave of 35-3½.
A pair of Eagles moved on in field events as Aubrey Kelly won the discus with a distance of 170-6, while teammate Stacy Brown (45-2) was third in the triple jump.
Shoemaker’s Carlon Rivera (139-5) was fourth in the discus, and teammate Jeremias Serrano won the 3,200 in 9:48.04. Brysin Minosky, of Belton, and Ellison’s Reggie Evelyn also advanced in the 3,200.
In the triple jump, Killeen’s Devonte Cochran (47-2½) and Vodrick Carter (45-6) took the top two spots, and Shoemaker’s Treveon Jackson was third.
In the girls pole vault, Reagan Davies cleared 9-0 to win the event for Ellison. The Belton trio of Morgan Holman (8-6), Madilynn McFeeter (8-6) and Kirsten Overstreet (7-6) followed Davies in the standings.
Only seven field events, the 3,200 and running preliminaries were completed Wednesday with the remainder of the competitions set for today, beginning at 11 a.m. Running finals will start at 5 p.m.
Now, with a trip to the Region I-6A meet on the line, like the other area qualifiers, Stifflemire will continue aiming to improve his skills by any means necessary during the upcoming days.
“I’m just going to practice, practice, practice,” he said, “and I’m going to put myself through football practices.
“That works on your agility and footwork. It makes you faster and stronger, so that is something I’m going to be doing. It’s just really helpful.”