Tauskie Dove was the longest of long shots to finish his high school track and field career on a high note Friday at the UIL state track meet.
And yet, Ryan coach Janson Head had a good feeling about Dove’s chances to exceed expectations in the triple jump, where he was the wild card entry in a nine-competitor field.
Dove has spent much of high school competing on a big stage as a member of the school’s football program and come through in the clutch before.
“We worked hard every day,” Dove said. “It feels good to finish it off well. I felt good today. I got some rest before the meet, got my mind right and was ready to compete.”
Dove’s performance was one of the highlights of an opening day at the state meet that also saw Adam Mendoza of Pilot Point defend his state title in the 800-meter run. Rylan Waldo of Ponder and Kaia Saylor of Aubrey also took home medals.
Dove focused on track following football season instead of playing basketball, a decision that paid off over the course of the spring. He worked with Ryan assistant and former North Texas standout Patrick Cobbs on improving his speed and carrying his momentum throughout his jump.
That work helped Dove qualify for the state meet. He finished third in Region I with a mark of 45-8 3/4 and qualified for state with the top mark outside of the eight automatic qualifiers who finished in the top two at their regional meets.
Region I was one of the toughest in the state in the triple jump. Dove’s best mark of the season ranked fifth heading into the state meet.
The work Dove did heading into state paid off. He set new personal bests on each of his first two jumps and wound up earning a medal at the state meet in his final track outing. He also improved his own school record.
Dove is headed to Tyler Junior College next season to continue his football career.
“It’s a great way for him to finish,” Head said. “This is the last time he will ever jump. He has been an exceptional all the way through. He deserves it.”