High jumper inches closer to state record

William Thompson:Quay County Sun

Tucumcari High School athlete Chris McCasland recently broke the school record in the high jump and now he looks to tie or break the Class 2A state record at the state track meet May 6 in Albuquerque.

McCasland, a senior, went to a meet at Melrose April 7 and cleared the bar at 6 feet 5 inches breaking the previous Tucumcari High School record of 6 feet four inches held by Stanley Ingram..

“When I was in the seventh grade I saw the Tucumcari high-jump record posted on a wall inside the high school locker room,” McCasland said. “I told myself then that I was going to break that record.”

McCasland said he has a shot to break the state record, six feet seven inches, but he won’t find out if he can until the state meet because only results from the state meet count for state records.

McCasland has been to the state meet before.

“That day I just tell myself it’s just another day,” he said. “I’m not going to change my routine just because it’s the state tournament.”

McCasland said he doesn’t feel a great deal of pressure. He said he simply practices his form twice a week for about 45 minutes each session.

“I’d say doing well in the high jump is 70 percent natural ability and 30 percent working on form,” he said. “Coach (Wayne) Ferguson helps me with my sprinting. Sprinting helps strengthen my calf muscles and strong calf muscles help with leaping.”

Mentally rehearsing a perfect jump is something McCasland does before every jump. When he takes off for a jump, however, all thought is suspended.

“You’ve got to just throw yourself over the bar,” he said. “The physical form just takes over.”

McCasland said he’s planning to attend Western State College in Gunniston, Colo. and continue high jump competition and other track events at the college level.

“I went there and watched their high jumpers and I told the coach I was jumping six feet four inches,” McCasland said, “and the coach told me I was jumping higher than the jumpers he had. There are jumpers at the college level who can jump seven feet.”

Coach Ferguson said in order for McCasland to break the state record he has to keep improving.

“What’s more important than the record is being the state champ,” Ferguson said. “If he has a jump of just five feet seven and wins the state championship then I’ll be happy.”