Hulls make state high jump a family affair

Humboldt High had two qualifiers for this week's Class 3A state track meet. Brother and sister Sam and Laney Hull both qualified in the high jump.



May 20, 2024 - 2:48 PM

Humboldt High's Sam Hull competes in the long jump Friday at the Class 3A Regional Track Meet in Fredonia. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

FREDONIA — As they competed just a few feet apart, almost in sequence, Humboldt High’s Sam and Laney Hull were almost oblivious to each other.

The Hulls were competing Friday in the high jump at the Class 3A Regional Track Meet, where a top-four finish would guarantee a slot in this week’s state track meet in Wichita.

There was some high drama building, particularly for Laney, who had cleared 4 feet, 10 inches, but just brushed the bar with her leg as she attempted to set a new career high at 5 feet.

“It got super close,” she said.

Adding to the suspense: two other jumpers, Maddie Coester of Girard and Laney Atkinson of Columbus also were eliminated trying to clear 5 feet, while the top two finishers — Bethany Embarger of Cherryvale and Grace Prince of Caney Valley — were still kicking.

With only four slots open, the competitors had to wait for the event to end, at which time track officials counted up the total number of misses, the determining factor for tiebreakers.

“I didn’t think I was going to go,” Laney said.

But when the final numbers came in, she had one fewer miss at lower heights than did Atkinson, guaranteeing Hull fourth place, and a trip to Wichita.

Humboldt High’s Sam Hull, left, and younger sister, Laney, have both qualified for the Class 3A state track meet in the high jump. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register
Humboldt High’s Laney Hull competes in the high jump Friday at the Class 3A Regional Track Meet in Fredonia. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register
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MEANWHILE, Sam — who wasn’t even a part of the Cub track team until late April — cleared the bar at 5’10”, guaranteeing him a top-two finish after winning a tiebreaker over Christian Barnett of Anderson County.

Hull, a standout in football, basketball and baseball, had decided to give golf a try this spring, but left the team in April when it became evident that the upcoming golf meets would conflict with Cub baseball games.

“I decided I might try for track again,” he said. “I did pretty well in the high jump when I was in middle school, and I figured it couldn’t be that much different. I think I picked it up rather quickly.”

THE SETTING for Fredonia High School’s track meet gave the added flavor of having the boys and girls competing simultaneously, both at the same end of the FHS football stadium.

“Usually, they’ll have the boys or girls go first, and then the other,” Sam said.

Or in some cases, such as in Iola, the high jump pits are on opposite sides of the field.

“I was able to watch a couple of his jumps, but I didn’t really get to see that much,” Laney said.

Sam concurred. “I was too focused on what I was doing.”

Humboldt High’s Mateo Miller competes in the triple jump Friday at the Class 3A Track Meet in Fredonia.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

AS THEIR parents and grandparents watched nervously from a nearby set of bleachers, Sam and Laney realized they had punched their respective tickets to state — the only Humboldt competitors to qualify — both reflected on their journey.

Laney, a sophomore, had narrowly missed qualifying for state as a freshman in three events, the high jump and 100- and 300-meter hurdles races. She took fifth in all three.

“I’m pretty excited,” she said. “I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t get 5 feet, but that will give me something to shoot for at state.”

Sam, meanwhile, was still dealing with the stinging disappointment of seeing the Cub baseball team eliminated by Burlington’s sixth-inning rally in their regional championship game three days earlier.