KAUKAUNA - Trent Nytes of Kaukauna snuck up on the field to leap to the 2013 division one state high jump title. A luxury he won't have this season. "I feel like there's a lot of pressure to win every single time I'm jumping but I just use that to help get better," Nytes said.
Carrying the title of state champion comes with a certain cache but it also makes an athlete a different person in outsiders’ eyes. "People are different,” Kaukauna high jumping coach Bill Leon said. “They always ask how he's feeling.” Nytes has cleared 6-10 this season, which is tied for the highest jump in the state this season.
Whenever a track athlete reaches that can of rarified air fans interest in seeing history increases. “They kind of want to see him try to attempt it. You know everybody likes to see somebody attempt something," Leon said, referring to Nytes potentially setting a new high water mark for the season.
Clearing 6-10 can seem a little abstract unless you’ve stood next to a high jump pit recently. A good frame of reference for just how high that is? The average door in your home is about that same height.
Nytes currently shares the top leap with another Northeast Wisconsin native, Alex Bloom of Seymour. While Kaukauna and Seymour are in different divisions, Bloom and the Thunder compete in division two; the pair has struck up a friendly rivalry.
"Me and him always compete every year to see who gets the best. I got him last year by a half inch. This year we're tied so far," Nytes said with a smile.
The duo share lofty aspirations for the state meet as well. “We always talk about trying to get those records. Pretty much every week we talk about trying to get those. He's going for the 6-11 D2 record as too," Nytes said.
Nytes continues to refine his technique, stretching his limits in hopes of besting the current state record of 7-feet when he reaches the state meet, the only event in which an official state record can be set. The current high jump record has stood since 1992.
"It's going to take a perfect jump,” Nytes said. “Really work on that technique, get that there and then the adrenaline at state really helps."
His coach agrees, saying at those heights, athletes have to be willing to just for it. "Just have no fear. People that that are out jumping and leaving the ground I mean you just have no fear and know you're not going to get hurt," Leon said.
Fearless leaping, unafraid, could earn Nytes a place in Wisconsin high school history. "It would mean a lot for me to be remembered as the greatest high jumper ever," Nytes said. From surprise state champ to the all-time best, now that's setting the bar high.