Marble Falls High School graduate Kason O’Riley (left) won gold in the high jump at The Outdoor Nationals on July 1 after clearing 7 feet and a quarter-inch. Kennedy Sauder of Lauderhill, Florida, finished second with 6 feet 10.25 inches. Courtesy photo
One jump separated Marble Falls high jumper Kason O’Riley from a national championship and third place at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
And one jump is all the 2021 Marble Falls High School graduate needed to capture the gold medal July 1 at The Outdoor Nationals. O’Riley, a University of Oklahoma signee, cleared 7 feet and a quarter-inch to beat out a field of 21 high jumpers and capture a high school national title. He also set a new personal record with the jump.
“It was insane,” he said. “I jumped with some of the best high school jumpers in the nation. It was neat.”
The National Scholastic Athletics Foundation hosted the meet in Eugene at the same track the U.S. Olympic Team track-and-field trials took place in June.
The former Mustang easily met the qualifying jump height requirement of 6-6 to compete. O’Riley had previously cleared 7 feet in the high jump. After meet organizers extended an invitation, he and his mother, Katy, drove 33 hours on June 27-30 to Hayward Field.
The future Sooner didn’t enter the competition until the bar was set at 6 feet 8.25 inches. He needed two attempts to clear that height. He also needed two attempts to clear 6-10.25.
As for the jump that landed him the national title, O’Riley was on his third attempt at 7 feet and a quarter. A miss would have dropped him into third behind Kennedy Sauder of Lauderhill, Florida, and Tyus Wilson of Sterling, Kansas, based on the number of attempts to get them over the 6-10.25 mark.
With his winning leap, O’Riley said he held it in the air a bit longer and let his hips “get up a little” higher.
That little adjustment was all it took to land him a gold medal and national title.
After securing the first-place spot, O’Riley raised the bar one more time.
“I attempted 7-2.25 and barely missed it,” he said. “I would say my calf on one of those jumps (hit the bar).”
“It was nerve wracking going into the meet, especially since I’m not the favorite,” he said. “(The Outdoor Nationals) was definitely one of my favorite wins. I’ll be seeing a lot of these guys in the future.”