LA CROSSE — Trent Nytes knew what was expected of him as a defending state champ in the Division 1 boys state track and field meet and despite admitting maybe there was pressure on him, he didn’t show it.
Nytes defended his state title Friday at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse by clearing 6 feet, 7 inches and afterwards was quite pleased.
“It feels amazing to defend my title,” Nytes said. “It feels close to the same as last year.”
Nytes admitted returning as a state champ added pressure, but said the regular season helped him cope with the pressure.
“It’s really tough, because everyone’s expecting you to win every meet,” Nytes said. “I just fought through that and had it help me.”
Nytes was the only competitor to clear 6-7, but instead of opting for 6-8 or 6-9 on his next attempt, he tried to tie the state record of 7 feet. He had three jumps but just couldn’t clear the bar.
“I was really close,” said Nytes who has cleared 6-10. “I really should have had it. I nicked it a little bit, but I’m happy with defending my title.”
Nytes was competing in the high jump and long jump at the same time so he was going back and forth between the events. Trying to keep track of when he was up in each event can be a challenge but he’s used to it.
“It’s tough because I had to run back and forth,” he said. “I just tried to focus on one at a time and do my best in each.”
Nytes finished sixth in the long jump with a distance of 22-3 1/2.
While Nytes was repeating in the high jump, Green Bay Preble’s Robert Starnes won the long jump with a mark of 23-5 1/4. Like Nytes, he was running between the long and high jump, and he also ran a leg on a relay.
“It feels great, it hasn’t really hit me yet,” said Starnes. “I’ve been working all season for this, went undefeated; just really happy.”
During the early part of the season Starnes was dealing with a left hamstring injury and sat out about one month. He was ready for the postseason but said he’s still not 100 percent.
“I don’t think it’s all behind me; my hamstring’s still hurting,” said Starnes, who placed seventh in the high jump with a height of 6-4. “I just had to push through it. It was my last year, so I had to give my all.”
Starnes ran a leg on the 400-meter relay and wasn’t sure how he’d respond in the long jump afterwards.
“Today I was surprised after running that relay,” Starnes said.
That’s when Starnes recorded his winning leap. Think how surprised his competitors were.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay