There was a time when the stage was simply too big for Krum’s Cade Wall.
That stage was last year’s Class 3A Region II track and field meet. Wall, then a junior, was coming off a solid performance in the high jump at the area meet, and he felt ready to take the logical leap toward his first state berth.
It didn’t happen that way.
“I remember being intimidated by one other jumper, but I was also overthinking a lot,” Wall said. “The pits were a little different from what I was used to, and I found myself thinking a lot about the equipment rather than my jumps. It took me three tries to clear 6 feet, and by that point I was [out of it] and my confidence was down quite a bit.”
Wall said he won’t be second-guessing himself at this year’s region meet, slated for today and Saturday at Texas A&M-Commerce’s Memorial Stadium. Wall is the District 9-3A champion in the high jump; he won the 9-3A/10-3A area meet last weekend with a leap of 6 feet 2 inches. He’s hit that mark in all but two meets this year, and his goal this weekend is 6-4.
“My focus now is on the height in front of me, not the competition around me,” Wall said.
The top two finishers in an event at each of the four regionals and the ninth-best qualifier from across the state advance to the state meet in Austin.
Wall is one of three representing Krum at the regional, joining Colton Lucas (high jump) and Savannah Brinkley (long jump and triple jump).
Others competing in Commerce are Sanger’s Brance Watts and Jacob Perry and Argyle’s Reese Thompson. Watts won the discus at the area meet with a throw of 149 1/2 and the shot put with a throw of 48-10. Perry won the 3,200 meters with a time of 9 minutes, 35.25 seconds and won the 1,600 with a time of 4:21.80.
Both were instrumental in Sanger claiming the boys title with 130 points. Argyle finished third with 109 points and one big reason was Thompson, who won the pole vault with an effort of 15-0. He also won the 110 hurdles, finished second in the 300 hurdles and was third in the long jump behind teammate Taylor Sweatt. Both helped the 800 relay team finish third.
On the girls side, Sanger’s Maddie Wilson — who qualified for state last year — has a chance to repeat after advancing in the discus, which she won last week with a throw of 122. Brooke Robertson, Laine Lowry, Taylor Mueller and Cassi Hargroves led the Lady Eagles — who finished second as a team at the area meet — to gold in the 1,600 relay and silver in the 800 relay.
Class 4A will hold its Region I meet in Abilene at McMurry, while the Class 2A Region II meet will be in Stephenville at Tarleton State. Notable qualifiers in 4A include Josiah Tauaefa and Josh Jackson from Lake Dallas. Tauaefa placed second in the discus at the district meet with a throw of 137-6 while Jackson took gold in the high jump at 6-9.
The Lady Falcons won gold last week in the 200 when Brielle Brown posted a time of 25.50. Taylor Davis won the 400.
Pilot Point’s DaCoven Bailey will compete in the 100 and 200 at the 2A meet and is a key cog in the Bearcats’ 400 relay team. Ponder’s 800 relay squad also qualified.
Argyle boys coach Steve Chancelor said the quality of the area’s athletes has increased dramatically, making for a very competitive season.
“Our region alone is very competitive once you get to East Texas, so it’s important to be running against athletes who can post elite times all season long,” Chancelor said. “You would hate to compete against slow times all year, and thankfully we don’t have that issue. We have great competition to deal with.”
Wall is a fitting example in the high jump. At 5-7, he often has been overlooked by much taller opponents. Yet he won every meet as a freshman, lettered the next year and has medaled at every regular-season, district and area meet since.
Krum high jump coach Eric Shon said the key to Wall’s success is that he’s simply a clean jumper. He works on form every day and is good at eliminating wasted movements that can lead to bad jumps.
“He makes his jumps on his first attempt. He doesn’t miss heights that he shouldn’t, and that puts a lot of pressure on the other jumpers,” Shon said. “He’s one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever coached. He is the smallest guy out there, but he quickly gets the crowd behind him. You look at last year and he didn’t have that confidence like he does now.”
Wall knows his ability and what he’s capable of, and he wants to prove it with a trip to state.
“I’m definitely very excited, especially since this is my senior year, and I like my odds,” Wall said. “My first couple of years, other jumpers kind of glanced at me and grinned like, ‘What the heck is that short kid thinking?’ The last couple of years, though, they know I can compete.”