Kyle Stifflemire does not view the state meet as a destination. Instead, it is a culmination.

After spending years working to reach the sport’s biggest stage, Gatesville’s senior pole vaulter accomplished the goal, qualifying to compete at Saturday’s University Interscholastic League Class 4A Track & Field State Meet in Austin.

While Stifflemire is eager for the opportunity, he is equally appreciative of the journey.

“Everything has been building up to this point,” Stifflemire said, “because it is all the hard work from previous years that has gotten me here. It’s not just this season.

“A combination of factors over years has helped me get to where I am now.”

Stifflemire is a favorite to emerge from the meet with a gold medal.

Among the nine athletes vying for the state championship, Stifflemire is tied for the field’s top seed height, clearing 15 feet, 3 inches at the Region III-4A meet to place second.

Past performances are meaningless, however, according to Stifflemire.

“Everybody comes in with a fresh slate,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are.

“It’s going to be an all-out dogfight, because there are no favorites until somebody jumps a height on Saturday.”

Stifflemire will compete at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium located on The University of Texas campus, but he will not be the only Hornet in attendance.

Pole vaulter Sage Carson, a junior, looks to improve on her fourth-place showing at last year’s state meet after claiming the regional championship with a height of 11-6. She enters the meet tied for the field’s second-best height, trailing only Taylor senior Anna Cathryn Griffith (12-0).

Additionally, Gatesville senior Sage Carson aims to cap off her high school career with a gold medal in the discus. A throw measuring 109-9 propelled Carson to second place at the regional meet.

Carson will be challenged, though, as seven competitors enter with a seed mark of at least 125-0.

Regardless of the event, Stifflemire believes the stiff opposition is what makes the meet special.

“I’m really excited to be able to put myself out there and try to prove that I am one of the best,” he said.

The girls discus is scheduled to begin at noon with the girls pole vault following at 1 p.m.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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