By BRETT MARSHALL
Jonathan DuVall has cleared many a hurdle during his high school track and field career at Garden City High School.
That's what happens when you happen to be one of the top 110- and 300-meter hurdlers in Kansas and still have one more season to make an imprint into the history and record books.
Friday, DuVall, a 5-9, 170-pounder, cleared another hurdle, as he formalized his decision on where he would take his hurdling skills for his college competition, signing an NCAA Division I letter-of-intent with the Wichita State University Shockers.
The signing clears the way for DuVall to avoid any future recruitment as he ventures into his senior season with the Buffs, where he will return to defend a pair of Class 6A state championships that he captured last May at WSU's Cessna Stadium.
"They were very welcoming, a very family-like atmosphere," DuVall said of his official visit to WSU. "They've got some really good coaches and I'm excited to be going there."
DuVall, who had personal bests of 14.5 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles and 38.92 in the 300 meters, finished his junior season with the fifth fastest time in Kansas in the 110s and the fourth fastest time in the 300s.
Among his chief competitors are southwest Kansas rivals Adebayo Braimah and Trenton Hammond of Liberal in the 300s, and Holcomb's Heath Tucker in both the 110 and 300 events. He also faces Class 5A state champion Adam Deterding of Hays, who nudged him for the Western Athletic Conference title last spring.
"We've got a lot of great hurdlers in southwest Kansas and I think it just pushes me to keep getting better," DuVall said.
Of the two hurdle races, DuVall said he felt the 300s was the better for him due his short stature for the 110s.
"I've got to get my step down faster and get my form better on the 110s," DuVall said. "In the 300, I need to continue to keep my pace, and work on getting my left foot going over closer to the hurdle. There's room for improvement, and I've improved my times every year so far."
DuVall said he had been working in the offseason to build up his endurance and specific workouts to improve his muscle reaction time.
"I've done some workouts with Mr. (Martin) Segovia and I think it's really helping me a lot," DuVall said. "I think last year, I surprised myself how well I did in the 110s, but I think I'm better in the 300s."
DuVall said he first had discussions with WSU coaches at the K.T. Woodman Invitational in April of 2012, when the Buffs went to compete at one of the top Kansas regular-season meets. He said the Shocker coaches followed up with more talks at the state meet.
"It just feels like the right place for me to be," DuVall said. "It's really exciting and I can't wait to get there next year."
Before moving on, DuVall will be looking at his senior season with the ultimate goal of repeating at the state track meet.
GCHS head track coach Mike Smith was happy for his senior track standout.
"He's gotten better every year, but most of the credit goes to coach (Jacy) Holloway and to Jonathan," Smith said.
Holloway is one of Smith's assistants, who assists both the hurdlers and jump event athletes for the Buffs.
"It takes a lot of dedication to become a D-I athlete," said Holloway, a former basketball standout at Iowa State University. "It's the ultimate dedication both athletically and mentally to improve enough that you can go on and compete at the higher level."
Holloway said he believed DuVall still had room for improved times based upon the physical improvement in his flexibility.
"He's fast enough between the hurdles and his ability to sprint is better than most hurdlers," Holloway said. "We want to see him get that foot down on the ground quicker when he's going over a hurdle and that's where taller hurdlers typically have some advantage. But the 300 is like the 400-meters. The last 100 is sheer guts. That's the mentally tough race where you just find a way to push yourself to the finish line. Jonathan's got that kind of determination."
DuVall said he plans to pursue a degree in business management, finance or accounting.