AUSTIN — Here’s how you know you’ve made it, when you’ve captivated an audience with record-breaking performances and do it in a way that makes everyone take notice for the right reasons.
When they put a gold medal around your neck and then put a second gold on top of that one, and then allow you to wear your hat, albeit the normal way instead of backwards like you normally do, on the podium.
Tyler Buysse burst onto the track scene as a basketball player somewhat forced to compete in a sport that he didn’t think compared to his beloved hoops.
“I didn’t really even want to do track at all,” Buysse said. “I play basketball. I love basketball.”
As his high school career comes to his end, the Gunter standout lived up to the expectations with two more gold medals and lowered his own state records in the two wheelchair races at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Friday night.
He won the 100 with a time of 15.41 seconds and then captured the 400 with time of 53.77 seconds. Buysse came into the meet with the fastest qualifying times by significant margins and showed why.
His record in the 100 was 16.05 and Buysse was never really challenged after the start. Carrington Marendes of Woodville was the runner-up at 16.22 seconds and Kingwood Park’s Jacob Allen was third in 16.57 seconds.
“A lot of kids work on their starts. That’s normally the most important thing for the 100,” Buysse said. “I can stay with them and then make it up the rest of the race.”
The mark in the 400 smashed his winning time from last year by nearly four seconds. Runner-up Marendes also broke that record (57.60) and still finished two seconds behind Buysse at 55.80 seconds. They were the only two to break one minute.
“I just felt I was racing my times,” Buysse said. “My goal was under 55 and then I saw the 53 up there. I never glance at the clock until I finish.”
There is a chance he could compete in the next Paralympic Games but after graduation there is just one focus.
“Right now I’m going to the University of Missouri for basketball,” he said. “In the 100 I’m close. If I trained for a year I might have a chance. The 400, they’re still going faster than me.”
Buysse was unable to defend his state title in the seated shot put and finished off the podium in fourth with a throw of 21 feet, four and a half inches.
He entered this year with the sixth-best qualifying throw and tried to repeat what he did as a junior, coming from the seventh-best toss to a gold medal.
Halfway through the event he was in first but three of the final five competitors surpassed him and two of them broke his record (22 feet, one and three quarters inches) set last spring.
Richardson’s Zachary Steger won the crown with a toss of 27 feet 11 inches after entering with the top throw of more than 28 feet, Marendes earned the silver at 22 feet, two and a half inches and Joseph Doak of Sheldon King took the bronze again for the second straight year, this time at 21 feet, 11 and a quarter inches.
All told, Buysse won five gold medals over two appearances, set three state records and still holds two of them. It’s a long way from where he started and understands what it means for those who have watched his success.
“I want them to be better than me,” Buysse said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re home-schooled or go to Gunter. If they want to do it, they can.”