By BRETT MARSHALL
WICHITA - While several seniors were stealing the thunder for southwest Kansas athletes at the Kansas State Track and Field Championships, it was Hugoton freshman Nicole Kinser who provided the lightning near the end of Saturday's final day at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.
The 6-foot-2 rookie soared 36-5¬½ to claim the Class 4A triple jump in her first trip to state.
"It was like Hoosiers when they were walking into the big arena," Kinser said of stepping onto the field at Cessna Stadium, referring to the famous basketball movie about a small-town Indiana basketball team in the 1950s. "It was really big and I was both excited and nervous."
Kinser, who had a season best of 37-5¬½ earlier said winning the gold medal was a feeling she hopes to come back and repeat.
"I hope by the time I'm a senior I can get the state record," Kinser said of the mark which is 39-1 in 4A. "It just felt pretty good to get the win. I thought I had a good chance to win but somebody told me there was a girl who went 40-0, but then I found out she was in another class. I was glad for that."
Kinser got her winning jump on her third attempt. The first jump has usually been her best. "I just did everything backwards, it seemed like," Kinser said.
Kinser's win was the first for a Hugoton girl since 2004 when Brittany Hill won the 3,200. Standing on the podium awaiting her medal, Kinser said she had fun talking with the other girls. "It was pretty cool, just us girls talking together and making friends," Kisner said. "Getting the medal up there was definitely a much bigger deal than any of the others."
Kinser said some of her friends convinced her to begin triple jumping in the eighth grade and she has never looked back. Over the past two seasons, she has yet to lose in her specialty while also running the 200 (eighth on Saturday) and on occasion the 400.
"The triple jump is my favorite by far," Kinser said. "But the 200 does help me pick up speed." Her tall frame helps her start to the approach on her jumps where she says she takes two big steps. From there, it is 14 steps (counting both legs) before she hits the board to take off.
"The hop you have to do but getting a big step helps me," Kinser said in describing the three components to the jump. "The jump you are just trying to use the momentum to get into the air. If I look up on the jump then I will stay up in the air longer. If I look down, I'll go down quicker.
"All the girls who beat me in the 200 were seniors so I'm hoping I can get faster and come back with a chance to win that one, too."