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Track and field: Change of course

Profile image for By Ben Baby / Staff Writer
By Ben Baby / Staff Writer

Argyle high jumper once thought basketball was his ticket

ARGYLE — Back when Spencer McCloud was a sophomore at Argyle, he carried dreams of one day continuing his basketball career at a small college.

But once the Argyle track coaches went searching the school’s gym for a kid who could leap well beyond his height, they stumbled across McCloud, who stumbled across a new set of career plans.

Three years later, McCloud is in the arena in which he excels the greatest. This morning in Austin, McCloud enters the Class 3A state track and field championships as 3A’s reigning high jump champion

The Argyle senior is looking to win his third high jump medal and his second straight gold medal.

When he graduates from Argyle, he’ll be back in the state’s capital city, where he’ll continue his track career as a member of the Longhorns.

With the basketball team’s relatively early exit from the playoffs, McCloud got a jump on the track and field season.

“We went out second round this year in basketball, so this is really the longest season I’ve had in track,” McCloud said. “Going back, it’s very exciting. I want to go and win another one [gold medal], just end it right.”

McCloud enters today’s meet as one of six of the nine participants with a qualifying mark of 6 feet, 6 inches.

In McCloud’s sophomore year, Argyle head track coach Steve Chancelor came into the basketball gym in search of an athlete. McCloud’s ability to drive down the edge of the court and tenaciously dunk the ball made it an easy transition to the track.

He was also grounded at the time, and the high jump allowed him to get out of the house and stretch his legs.

As a sophomore, McCloud finished second at the state meet. Chancelor said that McCloud thought he was tied at the top during the state finals, but the young Eagle was clueless regarding the scoring of the event.

“To go from that to being the state champion last year and being one of the favorites this year, he’s matured a bunch in the sport,” Chancelor said.

McCloud said he committed to Texas about a month ago. The lanky, blond-haired senior took visits to Texas-San Antonio, Texas Tech and Arkansas as well. After narrowing it down between Texas and Arkansas, McCloud cemented his decision and signed his national letter of intent with one of the nation’s most prestigious programs.

“It’s that pride that, ‘This is Texas,’” McCloud said. “Texas, they don’t bring in very many people from out of the country, out of the state.

“I’ve always loved Texas, and having that opportunity, I had to take it.”

And now McCloud has the chance to seize another opportunity today. A first-place finish today brings McCloud his third gold medal. Along with his gold from last year’s meet, McCloud was also a key player on the 2012 Argyle boys basketball team that won the 3A state championship.

“In the big meets, he’s always performed,” Chancelor said. “Every time we’ve had a big meet — you talk about regionals, or you go to Texas Relays or you go to state — he’s usually had his best performances. I kind of expect the same thing this time.”

Chancelor pointed out that once McCloud enters the program at Texas, he’ll no longer be split between the hardwood and the field.

He’ll have one of the country’s best track programs at his disposal, enabling his trek to continue to reach new heights.

“I think the sky is literally the limit for him,” Chancelor said.

BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.