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May 9, 2014

UIL STATE TRACK AND FIELD MEET — Huntsville senior Audie Wyatt clears 16 feet, 9 inches, wins gold medal in pole vault event

AUSTIN — Huntsville senior Audie Wyatt couldn’t have scripted a more fitting conclusion to his high school track and field career.

Competing at the UIL Track and Field State Meet for the first time, Wyatt cleared bar after bar in the pole vault, including a best of 17 feet, and came away with gold on Friday.

Wyatt outlasted practice partner Antionio Ruiz of Tomball Memorial and Corsicana’s Noah Gilfillan to win the Class 4A boys pole vault state championship at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.

“It means everything to me. This is all I’ve been aiming for all year,” said Wyatt, who will pole vault on scholarship at Texas A&M in the fall. “All I wanted was 17 feet and a gold medal and I got it.

“I was really excited with my performance. It was a tough competition.”

Before Wyatt even began, the competition was halted after 20 minutes of action due to lightning in the area while Wyatt and a few others were warming up and ready to make their first runs down the runway.

After the nearly hour-long delay, Wyatt struggled at first as he entered the competition at 15 feet, 6 inches and scratched on his first two attempts.

Facing elimination and possibly not recording a mark, Wyatt cleared the bar on his final attempt.

“We had a delay, so it was pretty tough for everyone,” Wyatt said. “I can understand why a few people messed up. You just have to get your head right.

“I almost no-heighted today. I brought myself back from that. I got my confidence back up.”

One of his competitors and practice partner, Jacob Wooten of Tomball Memorial, didn’t take to the delay well. Wooten, the field’s No. 1 seed who cleared 17 feet to win the Class 4A Region III title in Huntsville late last month, scratched on all three attempts.

Only Wyatt, Gilfillan and Ruiz were still in the running after the 15-6 mark. Assured of a state medal, whether it was gold, silver or bronze, Wyatt began to hit his stride.

The Hornets vaulter cleared 15-9, 16-3 and 16-9 on his first attempt at each height. He also cleared the bar at 16-0 on his second try.

“After I was in the top three, I knew all I needed to do was to get 17 (feet),” Wyatt said.

Ruiz couldn’t fly over the bar at 16-3 and finished third.

Then both Wyatt and Gilfillan agreed to bypass 16-6 to move the bar up to 16-9.

After Wyatt cleared the height on his first attempt, Gilfillan scratched on his first two attempts.

Using a bit of strategy, Gilfillan eschewed his final attempt at 16-9 for a lone try at 17.

The thinking was, Gilfillan said, that if he could clear it on that attempt, that would give him an advantage, considering that Wyatt held the tiebreaker by clearing the previous two heights in fewer attempts.

“I knew that if I could clear 16-9, then I could get 17, too,” Gilfillan said.

The situation was set up for Gilfillan after Wyatt knocked the bar off on his first attempt at 17, but Gilfillan couldn’t come through. That miss clinched the state title and a gold medal for Wyatt.

“He skipped. He skipped a height and I thought that yes, this is probably going to happen for me. Hopefully, I’m going to get first,” Wyatt said. “He missed and I got it. I know that sounds bad. I mean, I was hoping he was going to get it, but sometimes skipping like that is not always a good thing.

“I went out, did my best and made my dreams come true.”

The Huntsville senior then cleared 17 feet on the next try. He fell short of the next height at 17-3, but the state gold medal he won more than made up for it, he said.

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