Marble Falls High School senior Kason O’Riley headed into the state track-and-field meet Friday, May 7, as the favorite in the boys Class 5A high jump, and he lived up to those expectations. O’Riley cleared 7 feet for a gold medal at the University Interscholastic League meet at Mike Myers Stadium at the University of Texas at Austin. With the jump, he tied his current school record.
“Oh, it feels incredible, it really does,” O’Riley said. “I knew I was the best coming in. I wasn’t going to let anyone take it from me.”
When the bar reached the 6-feet-7-inches mark, O’Riley was among four left standing. The senior cleared the mark on his first attempt and then held up the No. 1 hand sign to Mustang high jump coach Austin Silva.
The other three competitors failed on their first attempts at the height.
When they missed, me and coach celebrated,” O’Riley said. “Winning the state meet, setting the school record, that’s what I wanted to do.”
O’Riley continued jumping, eventually clearing the 7-foot mark. He even edged the bar higher to 7-feet 1.75 inches in an attempt for a new state record.
Head track coach Chris Schrader noted O’Riley looked good throughout the meet, especially when he went for the state record.
“He looked awesome,” he said. “He just missed, but he still had a lot of lift in his legs. His heel clipped the bar, just barely. It was a terrific jump. He rose to the occasion when it counted. Coach Silva did such a good job with him and not overworking him. He definitely wasn’t overworked. He had a lot of spring in his legs. The way he was getting up was beautiful.”
O’Riley, who signed to high jump for the University of Oklahoma, said he has accomplished what he wanted and can graduate knowing he represented the community to the best of his ability.
“I’m proud to be a Mustang,” he said.
“He is the best high jumper in program history,” Schrader said. “He makes coaches look good. He has an incredible work ethic like nobody’s business.”
O’Riley wasn’t the only Highland Lakes medal winner at the state meet.
Burnet High School sophomore Hudson Bennett won gold in the Class 4A boys 3,200 meters Thursday morning and wrapped up the meet with a bronze in the 1,600 meters later that night. He clocked 4 minutes 23.96 seconds in the second race.
Canyon High School senior Samuel Ashley finished first in 4:21.73 followed by Sanger High School senior Korbin Shumate at 4:23.25.
“It’s what you’ve come to expect from him,” said Burnet distance coach Jerod Rye. “If you would have talked to him before the state meet that afterwards he’d have two medals and win a race, he would have said, ‘That’s great.’ He’s happy with how today went. The way he finished was the stuff of legends.”
Heading into the final lap, the Bulldog was seventh out of nine runners but began pushing to the front. At 150 meters from the finish line, Bennett was in fifth place.
Then, he ran down the two runners immediately in front of him and crossed the line for a bronze.
“He decided that race wasn’t going to finish without him being on the podium,” Rye said. “I think he’s the epitome of toughness. We’ve known for a couple of years that Hudson is an elite runner.
“He’s fixing to be one who’s going to be phenomenal for the next two years. Once again, it goes back to his work ethic,” the coach added. “I can’t wait to see what the next few years has in store for him.”
In the Class 3A meet on Thursday, the Llano High School boys 4×200-meter relay team of Austin Hulon, Abel Prince, Case Kuykendall, and Quincy Prince raced to a bronze medal in 1:28.13 after the same Jackets finished ninth in the 4×100-meter relay in 42.82 seconds.
Llano freshman Gwyn Burnett was fourth in the girls 300-meter hurdles in 44.50 seconds.
And the Llano girls 4×400-meter relay team of Burnett, Anna Casey, Eta Cuthbertson, and Keihana Palamares was sixth in 4:04.24.