When Marble Falls High School senior high jumper Kason O’Riley steps into the pit, he is the favorite to win the gold medal. The Class 5A Region IV meet in San Antonio proved that once again.
As expected, O’Riley captured his second regional title April 23, clearing 6 feet 8 inches on his first attempt. With the win he advances to the University Interscholastic League Class 5A state meet, which is 9 a.m. Friday, May 7, at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus, 707 Clyde Littlefield Drive in Austin.
“It felt great,” O’Riley said of the regional meet success. “It’s a great feeling to get back, to compete at this high level.”
Another competitor — Mother Nature — delayed the event with passing thunderstorms and lightning. The event was supposed to start at 1:30 p.m., but due to several starts and stops, it didn’t wrap up until after 7 p.m.
“We started two hours after we were supposed to,” O’Riley said.
At track meets, O’Riley holds out until the bar reaches the 6-feet-4-inch mark before entering the contest. By that time, only four of the 15 jumpers who started before that height remained, including Marble Falls senior Lance Long.
Long cleared 6 feet 4 inches to set a personal record and finish third in the meet. Only the top two competitors in each event advance to state.
When the storm clouds cleared, Mother Nature unleashed the sun upon the athletes.
“The sun came out, and it was like frying bacon,” said Marble Falls track-and-field coach Chris Schrader. “There was no tent. The kids were in the sunlight. It depleted (O’Riley’s) energy level. I was real pleased with how Kason handled the situation. He and (high jump coach Austin) Silva made adjustments.”
O’Riley went on to clear 6-4, 6-6, and 6-8 on his first attempts at those heights.
Junior Logan Barnes was sixth in the discus with a toss of 151-0 to end his season as one of the top 24 throwers in Class 5A. He also set a new personal best by 10 feet. Schrader credited Barnes and throwing coach Richard Scales for the success.
“They all rose to the occasion,” Schrader said of the three athletes. “They all stepped up to the competition.”
Spectators will be allowed to attend the UIL state track-and-field meet in person, but at a limited capacity. Tickets will be available online or in person. The UIL will post a link for online sales once it’s made available.
Tickets are $15 for a single session and $25 for all-day Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Check the UIL track-and-field state meet spectator information page for more information and updates.