Tyler Cronk didn’t even qualify for the state championships last year. He didn’t get through his district meet after clearing 6 feet in the high jump.
Now he’s the 4A state high jump champion.
The junior from Kentridge High School didn’t clear the eye-popping 7-foot mark like he has twice this season – which, at least for a day, made him the No. 1 high jumper in the nation – but his 6-foot-9 was good enough to win the state title.
“Last year was just a disappointment,” Cronk said. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to go through that again.’ ”
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So he cleared 7-foot-2 last week, which at the time tied him for No. 2 in the country.
After clearing 6-9, he tried for 6-11. But he said he was shaking with nerves.
“I wanted to reach the sevens,” he said. “But I took first. I’ll take it.”
So how did he go from 6 feet to 7 feet in 12 months?
“I really have no clue,” he laughed. “And then I came into the year only hitting 6-3, then the next meet hit 6-6 and out of nowhere I head down to Wenatchee and hit 7-1. I don’t know what I did. I’m trying to figure it out still.”
He credits some of it to Kentridge’s first-year coach, Al Waltner. And researching videos on the top high jumpers in the world. He said he did that every day after school, finishing his homework and then looking online to study form and technique.
“He’s also a very good listener,” Waltner said. “You tell him something once and he soaks it in and applies it.”
Cronk was a foster child and when he was 3 he and his sister were adopted Brett and Mary Kay Cronk. They have both played basketball – which is still the 6-foot-8 junior’s favorite sport.
But he never expected he would get the 15-20 letters he has now from colleges looking for him as a high jumper. And college coaches aren’t yet allowed to contact him directly, yet. So he’s expecting his recruitment to take off.
“A coach told him he’d talk to him if he cleared 7 feet,” Waltner said. “And so I think that was just a big goal of his to get them to talk to him.”
And being one of the top jumpers in the nation has come with few perks.
“Everyone in school or when I go to different events, they are like, ‘Are you the dude who hit 7-foot-2?’ ” Cronk laughed. “Yeah, that’s me.”