AUSTIN — A year ago Skylar Gerner competed at regionals and wasn’t close to qualifying for the state meet. A month ago the Blue Ridge sophomore thought she’d have an opportunity to make it to Mike A. Myers Stadium, but it ended up coming in an event she didn’t figure.
“I honestly thought I had a better chance in the long jump but I got third at regionals,” she said. “Practice is always the biggest thing. I practiced every day and put more time into track.”
The effort and work paid off when Gerner was standing on the podium for the Class 2A high jump on Friday afternoon.
She cleared five feet, four inches to claim the bronze medal, finishing behind Lufkin Pineywood’s Tina Douglas, who won gold on a tie-breaker at five feet, eight inches over Holland’s Zoe Spinn. Those two came in with the top qualifying heights.
Gerner outlasted the rest of the field, which dropped out at five feet, two inches.
“I came out here and amazed myself. I didn’t think I was going to place, especially when one girl comes in at six feet,” Gerner said. “This is great. At first I was so nervous but then when I was warming up I was fine.”
She cleared the opening height of five feet and then five feet, two inches on her first attempt both times. There were just five athletes left when the bar was raised another two inches and at that point Jai’lin King of Refugio and Hico’s Sydney Polk were eliminated.
As one of three left in the field, Gerner was guaranteed a medal but couldn’t clear her personal best when the bar went to five feet, five inches. Douglas and Spinn made it on the first try and continued on but Gerner’s spot on the podium was already secure.
“At that point it was either I’m gonna PR or I’m not,” she said. “I knew how many were left and what it meant.”
Gerner will go for another medal in the triple jump, along with fellow Texoma qualifier Diavian Shaw of Honey Grove, on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m so excited for that one and hope I jump farther than I usually do,” she said.