Hays high jumper hits the mark for state

After missing out on a chance to reach the UIL state meet as a freshman last year, Hays High sophomore high jumper Reagan Casey didn’t let a second opportunity go to waste Friday.

By virtue of clearing 5-feet, 2-inches and 5-feet, 4-inches with no misses, along with out-dueling San Antonio Marshall senior Megan Palu in a jump-off, Reagan claimed the Region IV, 6A high jump gold medal and a ticket to the UIL state meet.

For Casey, whose experience includes consecutive trips to the Texas Relays, the ability to vie for a state medal was “awesome.”

“Last year here (at region), I came out on the losing end,” Casey said. “It’s cool that this time, I came out on the winning end.”

One motivating factor for Casey was the ability to surpass Vandegrift junior Kyla Peeples, Casey’s friend and primary competitor, in a meet.

That drive was fueled during the area meet on April 19 when Peeples edged out Casey for first place.

Casey said she and Peeples, who are friends off of the track, are always butting heads during the competition season.

“At my last meet, we were tied for first place, but Kyla came out on top,” Casey said. “She won the last meet. That made me want to beat her more.”

Casey said the key to her success has been working on critical mechanical aspects of high jumping. That includes working to strengthen her “knee drive,” which helps to generate enough height to clear the bar.

Helping that cause has been Alex Austin, an area personal trainer, who has assisted Casey with her knee drive.

“I’ve been working really hard on my knee drive, which is a big problem,” Casey said. “Still, my knee drive wasn’t there today. But once I get my knee drive down, I’ll get over.”

Competing against Palu in a jump-off for first place was equally daunting for Casey, who in 2017 was eliminated from state contention at the regional meet in a similar style.

Both Palu and Casey aimed for 5-feet, 6-inches on four occasions in the jump-off, with neither athlete able to clear the bar. Casey claimed victory when Palu slid into the bar during an attempt at 5-feet, 4-inches.

“I wanted 5’6” right there and I got four attempts at it, and it sticks that I didn’t get that,” Casey said. “But it’s hard mentally going back and forth like that (in a jump off).”

As she competes in her first state meet, Casey now sets her eyes on hitting a height of 5-feet, 10-inches, of which she said was hit during a practice session earlier this year.

“I’ll do what I need to be ready for state,” Casey said.

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