Late-arriving Alex Boyd shocks 5A boys high jump field, wins at 6-4
La Salle Prep high jumper Alex Boyd arrived at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, thinking he was about to compete in the OSAA Class 5A track and field state championships.
Except there was no track meet. Just a baseball game.
Starting to panic, he called teammate Mary Gach.
She broke the news: The meet was at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
Boyd arrived there four minutes before he would have been scratched, wasn't able to warm up, and eventually cleared 6 feet, 4 inches – a personal best by 5 inches – and won the event.
"It's crazy. Absolutely, crazy," Boyd said. "Everything fell into place and I couldn't be happier than I am right now."
Did he ever imagine that he would walk away with a state championship?
"No, I didn't," he said. "I would have been happy taking fifth."
With Hayward Field in Eugene undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation, the OSAA announced in August that the 6A and 5A state championships would move to Mt. Hood Community College, which last hosted a state track meet in 1991.
At some point between the time Boyd finished second at the Northwest Oregon Conference district championships and the start of the state meet, Boyd got his local community colleges confused.
When he realized his mistake, he was horrified.
"I just took off and was racing down I-84 to get here," he said later.
The high jump was scheduled to begin at noon. Boyd checked in at 11:56 a.m.
"When he showed up, we were doing introductions," said Chris Westfall, one of the officials working the high jump. "He had just enough time to get his sweats off and his shoes on and then we were starting. It was that close."
Of the 17 jumpers in the finals, Justin Conklin of The Dalles was the top seed with a qualifying mark of 6-4, followed by Crook County's Dominic Langley at 6-2, Crater's Chase Sherer at 6-0, Hillsboro's Jacob Cooke and Boyd at 5-11, and Wilsonville's Kellen Hartford and Pendleton's Shawn Yeager at 5-10.
Conditions were decent with temperatures in the mid-50s and overcast skies that turned into a steady rain later in the day, but held off throughout the high jump competition.
Eight jumpers cleared 6-0, but only four made it over 6-1. Conklin and Langley both cleared it on their first attempts, Yeager on his second try, and Boyd on his third and final attempt — a major breakthrough for someone who had never been over anything higher than 5-11 in a competition before this.
"I think I finally figured out how to hold my arch when going over higher heights," Boyd said. "It just was a matter of me getting off the ground quicker and holding my arch longer.
"When I jumped at 6 feet in the past, I'd just barely get it and really only at practice. And then I was always my arch that spoiled things. I usually felt like, 'OK, I'm up and now I have to get my legs over.' So, as soon as I'd try to bring my legs up, I'd snap my butt down on the bar."
At 6-2, Boyd cleared on his first attempt, Yeager cleared on his third attempt, and Conklin and Langley both missed three times each.
That made it a two-man battle.
When Boyd cleared 6-3 on his first attempt and Yeager missed, Yeager decided to pass his final two attempts and try his luck at 6-4.
"At that point, I was thinking, 'He doesn't think I'll be able to make 6-4, but he also doesn't trust himself to make 6-3,'" Boyd said. "So, I knew that I just had to make that height and then I'd have it."
Boyd cleared 6-4 on his second attempt, Yeager missed twice, and the competition ended just as the first few raindrops started to fall.
Was it the cool, dry conditions? Was it the heat of the battle? Was it the rush of adrenalin from having arrived in the nick of time? Was it his mother's homemade banana bread and scrambled eggs for breakfast? What got into him that he jumped like that?
"I don't know," Boyd said. "It just felt good. Some days, I jump higher than others. That's just how things go, I guess."
La Salle jumps coach Linus Oey struggled to explain what he had just seen.
"I'm proud of the boy," Oey said. "He worked hard at it and showed up and really stepped up today. I cannot believe that. He did fantastic.
"He always had power in him and it just took one meet to show it. I think he just had faith in himself today. I think that was the big thing. He had a lot of confidence and when he realized that, 'Hey, I've got a good chance at this,' all of a sudden he stepped up."
But a 5-inch PR? That's not supposed to happen.