Jumpers have good Friday for Hays High
By CONOR NICHOLL
WICHITA -- Hays High School senior Wendy Zimmerman had fought a foot injury nearly all year long and missed most of the track and field and soccer season.
She qualified for state at 4 feet, 10 inches last week at regional. HHS sophomore Haley George qualified for state last year, but struggled and finished 15th. Hays High senior Aaron Voss had twice qualified for state in the high jump, but had yet to place.
On Friday, the Indian trio enjoyed a big day at the Class 5A state high jump competition at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.
George and Zimmerman cleared 5-4 and finished second and third behind Andover junior Jaylyn Agnew, a three-time state champion, who also went 5-4. Voss went 6-4 to take second for the Indian boys. HHS junior Mattie Schlaefli also finished second in the javelin at 128-11.
"I worked really hard this year, and it's just quite an accomplishment from last year coming here and not doing so well, and this year, doing great, I am pretty happy with it," George said.
Zimmerman had gone 5-6 earlier in the season, but admitted Friday she was "very scared" to jump because of the injury and missed time. Zimmerman felt pain every time she planted her foot and gingerly got up from the mat after each attempt. Sometimes, Zimmerman was hobbling after attempts. Zimmerman was third as a junior and sixth as a sophomore.
"I didn't know what I was going to do," she said. "I didn't want to disappoint people, especially when I cleared 5-6. It's hard coming back from missing a whole track season, and then getting back into that routine of everything. It was pretty tough. I would say every time I would hit that plant foot, I got so timid when I jumped, and it just really destroyed me, but I am still hanging my head up high."
Zimmerman, a student of the high jump, has high jumped since fourth grade. Hays High has never had an official high jump coach in Zimmerman's career, so she learned a lot from Ty Haas, formerly with the Hays Striders and now the Fort Hays State University jumps coach. Zimmerman will compete for FHSU next year. Voss struggled at times this season, but Zimmerman was confident after seeing him daily in practice.
"I knew he had it in him," Zimmerman said.
George had cleared 5-4 just one time prior to state in her career.
"I knew that I needed to jump well, and our team had a goal to get as many people on the podium as we can, so I was doing it for the team, so I just practiced a lot," George said.
Zimmerman wanted to go 5-6 again, but said she was "surprised" and "thrilled" that she went 5-4. She cleared on her final attempt.
"Just kind of went through my head saying, ' It's going to hurt every time you jump, so you might as well just give it all you got,' " she said. "You just kind of have to go for it."