Daryon Wilson briefly paused before his second-to-last attempt in the long jump of the Class 4A state track and field meet at Jefferson County Stadium.
The Mitchell High School senior sat in fifth place in the finals after his opening mark June 24. Wilson attempted to mellow himself before his jump and used the audience to maintain his poise.
Wilson placed his arms out to his side and raised them over his head to clap. He repeated the motion as the crowd followed suit and provided him the juice to complete his attempt.
As the crowd noise came to a crescendo, Wilson ran toward the pit, hit the board and landed in the sand.
The Mitchell cheering section popped as Wilson smiled and peeked back at his mark. The display at the long jump pit showed the numbers: 23 feet, 5 ¼ inches — a new personal best.
His jump secured the bag and Wilson became Mitchell’s first track and field state champion since 2011. Wilson also was the only Southeast athlete to stand atop the podium at the three-day meet.
“It was about time,” Wilson said of exceeding 23 feet. “The clap got me hyped and ready to jump. I think I perform best in front of a crowd. It feels like I’m giving them a show.”
Wilson nearly had a repeat performance with the same routine two days later during the triple jump finals. As the crowd boosted Wilson, he took off
for his second attempt in the event.
Again, he cracked a smile as he landed in the pit, but held reservation waiting to see if the mark would stand.
“Scratch,” one of the judges declared as Wilson wiped sand from his legs. He eventually finished ninth with a mark of 41-5¾.
“It just didn’t work out with the board,” Wilson said of his triple jump. “But it was great to have all those people supporting me. Knowing that they’re there for you. But I proved to myself that I could do it so that’s all that really matters to me.”
Wilson’s abilities didn’t just blossom during his senior campaign, he showed promise as a freshman and delivered the following season.
He finished fourth at state as a sophomore in the long jump and his work landed him on the radar of multiple schools including Baylor and Michigan State.
However, Wilson said the pandemic exhausted their budgets and intrigue from those schools simmered down. He still drew interest elsewhere and on June 16, Wilson signed a letter of intent with UCCS to continue his career.
“They’ve been recruiting me since sophomore year,” Wilson said. “They’ve stressed how much they’ve wanted to have me since then and they’re one of the best jumping schools in the nation. So I thought it was a good fit.”
Wilson said his parents and coaches ensured his ego remained in check after the collegiate endorsements and early success.
The adults in his life recognized his talent and didn’t want Wilson to squander an opportunity.
“If I ever do bad at a meet my family will be blunt,” Wilson said. “My parents would say, ‘Oh, you took fifth place? That’s kind of crappy. What do you get, aluminum foil?”
While his jumping coach, Tracy Babers, never delivered that sort of message, he pushed the senior to shatter his ceiling.
“I’ve been with him since he was a freshman and he got up on the podium as a sophomore but then of course, COVID happened,” Babers said. “We stayed in contact and worked on his jumping and came back this year. His goals for this year were to ... win state and if there are nationals, we want to go to that.
“When you think of national-type athletes you don’t really think of Mitchell. He’s about to change all of that and put Mitchell on the map.”
Not just nationals, Wilson aspires to go global with his performances.
“I want to go to nationals and the Olympics,” Wilson said. “Paris 2024 is already on my calendar.”
He understands he’ll have hiccups along the way —this season proved that. Wilson expected to qualify for state in the high jump but missed the mark.
His best performance in the high jump occurred at the Doherty Spartan Invitational on June 12 where he cleared 5-9. His coaches rose from their seats after watching Wilson clear the bar on his final attempt at the height.
“Yes sir! I told you that you got this!” said Mitchell head coach Josh Browning as he celebrated Wilson’s feat.
Though Wilson cleared the height, it wasn’t enough to qualify for state and was his final clearance for the season.
The missed opportunity didn’t discourage Wilson as he recognizes his capabilities. He expects college to take him to new heights to help reach his goal of Olympic status.
When asked which of Wilson’s three events he hopes to qualify for the Olympic team in 2024, he had a succinct response.
“All of ‘em,” Wilson said.