|Brooks brings bronze to UC; Wilkins 9th at state |
MURFREESBORO — Nik Brooks had to settle for bronze at the Class A-AA high jump state championship Friday.
Union City track coach Darren Bowling (center) looks at the bronze medal that Nik Brooks earned at the Class A-AA State Track Meet with Tornado teammate Tony Wilkins looking on Friday in Murfreesboro.
The Union City senior, competing in just his fourth organized meet overall at the State Track Meet alongside Tornado teammate Tony Wilkins in the event, finished in third place overall after clipping the bar with his back foot on his third and final try at 6’4”.
Brooks had cleared the bar with his body by at least two inches at the point when his leg bumped it, thus ending his day with a high jump of 6’2”.
As a result, Brooks finished behind state high jump champion Cameron Fox of Stone Memorial, who cleared 6’6”, and the highly-favored David Strong of Austin-East, who skied to only 6’4”.
Brooks becomes the first UC competitor since Jermaine Thrash in 2004 (300-meter hurdles) to stand among the top three at the state championship meet.
Meanwhile, Wilkins struggled through most of his attempts with loose grass on the jumping surface cited as the culprit. When all was said and done, Wilkins finished at 6’ in ninth place.
Still, first-year Twister track coach Darren Bowling was proud of both of his seniors and their contribution to the UC track program after the competition.
“To have a couple of guys that have zero track experience coming into the year finish in the top 10 in the state is pretty special in my mind,” Bowling said. “These two have come a long way and I hope that as time goes along we will continue to reap benefits from their efforts with more people participating because of the road to state that Nik and Tony paved this year.
“That’s definitely something I hope we can build upon and I am optimistic that many of the kids coming up now may want to be the next Nik Brooks or the next Tony Wilkins for the track program.”
On Friday, Brooks began the meet on shaky ground.
The 6-foot-3 senior hit the bar on his first jump at 5’8”. However, Brooks rebounded on the next jump to clear the height.
Furthermore, he skied over the next three heights, clearing 5’10”, 6’ and 6’2” each on his first try.
“Nik had a bad jump on that first attempt, but he made up for it by making each of his next three marks on the first try,” Bowling said. “That’s key in this event as the earlier you make each height, the more energy you conserve for the rest of the day.”
Then, the senior missed the coveted 6’4” mark that would have been a new personal best three times, thus finishing in third.
“I think if I had put more time into it and practiced a bit harder, I might have been able to clear that jump,” Brooks said afterwards. “Still, it has been a whirlwind month for me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“The chance to represent my community and school one more time at state is a great way for me to end my senior year in high school.”
On the flip side, Wilkins’ morning in Murfreesboro began on a high note. Wilkins cleared 5’8” on his first try, but his personal struggles were looming on the horizon.
On the next two heights, it took Wilkins all three attempts to clear the bar with the UC senior unable to make the jump at 6’2”.
“There were some loose rocks and some grass out there on the jumping platform,” Wilkins commented. “They came out and blew it off and I thought I would have a chance then, but it wasn’t to be.
“I, too, thought they might give some of us that had troubles early another chance, but they didn’t. Still, just being here is an honor for me.”
Wilkins did not finish in the top two at the West Sectional and he qualified for the State Track Meet because his top jump was among the two highest in the state that did not get an automatic berth to the ’Boro.
“When they told me I didn’t make it at sectionals, I was pretty down on myself,” Wilkins admitted. “However, when I went into school Monday and found out that I had got in, I was ready to go.
“I just wish I had practiced more and focused on track some during high school, because I think I could have won this if I had.”
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.