Log in

Hopkins hopes to join exclusive Eagles company by vaulting 15-0

NIXA'S AFTON HOPKINS clears the bar at the Branson Relays.
NIXA'S AFTON HOPKINS clears the bar at the Branson Relays.

A couple weeks into his senior season, Nixa’s Afton Hopkins has heightened expectations by already setting a PR in the pole vault.

After clearing 14-5 at the Neosho Relays two weeks ago, Hopkins followed up by clearing 13-11 1/4 while finishing first at the Branson Relays on Thursday.

He’s already feeling in mid-season form.

“I'm feeling great,” Hopkins said. “During the off-season, I went to the Vault House (in Highlandville) pretty regularly. It's great to have something like that so close. I went about once or twice a month. Going there (in the off-season) makes a big difference. Instead of having to catch up at the beginning of the season, you feel ready to go.”

Hopkins has his sights set on 15-0 and would love to make a run at Cole Phillips’ school record of 15-6 set in 2012. Only three other Eagles, Seaton Owensby, Matt Codling and Joseph Nickell, have ever cleared 15-0.

“I want to shoot for the record,” Hopkins said. “I'm working my way up. I'm getting good at all the drills we're working on daily. I feel I need to work on the top end. I'm coming out a little too early. Other than that, I think I'm doing pretty good.

“It takes a lot of reps, and I've been doing this for seven years,” he added. “This is a big year for me to maybe go to another four years (vaulting in college).”

Hopkins attempted his first vault at Branson at 13-0. By that time, the rest of the field had already been eliminated. No one else went higher than 11-5 3/4.

“It takes a little bit,” Hopkins said of his wait. “But it's fun to watch everyone else jump and help them along their way.”

The Eagles’ Aaron Ashley was a two-time winner. He was first in both the 1,600 (4:19) and 3,200 (9:36).

Nixa had a 1-2-3 finish in the shot put, with Hayden Mays winning (52-2 1/2), Dylan Terry taking second (43-11 1/2) and Zachary Austin placing third (43-0 1/2). Mays also won the discus (171-7 1/2).

The Eagles’ Aidan Ward won the javelin (160-0 3.4) and Jaron Davis won the long jump (21-9).

Nixa’s 4 x 400 relay (3:32) and 4 x 800 relay (8:15) both took first.

Spencer Ward finished second in the 400 (52.07), as did Devon Kemp in the 800 (2:04), Reyes Martinez in the 3,200 (9:37), Nixa’s 4 x 100 relay (44.11) and its 4 x 200 relay (1:32).

Thirds for the Eagles went to Spencer Ward in the 100 (11.19), Randy Flint in the 200 (23.19), Alexander Worthley in the 800 (2:05), Mason Shank in the 1,600 (4:32) and Zan Novinger in the 3,200 (10:01).

On the girls side, Nixa’s Taylor Hopper swept the 100 (12.75), 200 (26.12) and 400 (59.71).

The Lady Eagles’ Eva Williams was a two-time winner. She was first in the 100 hurdles (16.27) and pole vault (11-0).

Seconds went to Nixa’s Olivia Reed in the long jump (16-11 1/2), Rylee Eng in the triple jump (35-2), Ava Owns in the discus (113-1), Amelia White in the javelin (120-5) and the Lady Eagles’ 4 x 400 relay (4:21).