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MFHS high jumpers clear way to area

Marble Falls high jumper Kason O'Riley

Marble Falls High School senior Kason O’Riley took first place in the District 25-5A high jump competition Wednesday, March 31, earning a spot at the area meet in April. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Despite less than ideal conditions due to high winds at the District 25-5A meet on Wednesday, March 31, two Marble Falls High School senior high jumpers advanced to the area contest.

Kason O’Riley cleared 6 feet 8 inches to capture gold at the meet, which was held at Georgetown East View High School, while teammate Lance Long cleared 6 feet 2 inches for fourth place. Both advance to the area meet on April 14, also at East View.

O’Riley, who is tied for the highest high school high jump in the nation at 7 feet, entered the meet as the favorite. He won the event as a sophomore in 2019. The district didn’t hold a meet in 2020 due to COVID-19.

One of the biggest adversaries the student-athletes faced was the weather.

A cold front sent 30-mph winds across the area, which knocked down the high jump bar several times. 

O’Riley entered the competition when other competitors reached the 6-feet-4-inch height. He promptly cleared the height on his first attempt and did the same at 6 feet 6 inches. 

“I was happy to compete against others at 6-4, 6-6,” O’Riley said. “Being the favorite, you have a little pressure on you.”

Marble Falls high jumper Lance Long
Along with battling other student-athletes, Marble Falls High School senior high jumper Lance Long also had to contend with strong winds during the district track meet. He overcame both for a spot in the area meet. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

However, Marble Falls High School high jumping coach Austin Silva noticed something was amiss after O’Riley failed to clear his first attempt at 6 feet 8 inches. The coach realized the right standard of the high jump was higher than the left. Silva notified officials, who examined the two standards and concurred. Once both standards were set correctly at 6-8, and O’Riley cleared the height on his second attempt.

By then, fatigue set in, and O’Riley didn’t clear 6 feet 10 inches.

“When you get to this level, you’re trying to advance,” Silva said. “We’d be thrilled if we could (set personal bests every meet). But at the end of the day, we’re trying to get in the top four and advance.”

O’Riley and Long, who are training partners, cheered one another on throughout the event. 

“It’s great training with Kason,” Long said. “That started in the seventh grade. We’ve had this great dynamic. We both help each other.”

Long also noted the conditions weren’t ideal, but he accomplished his goal of advancing to the area meet.

jfierro@thepicayune.com