JEFFERSON – It took just a single track meet to show that Jefferson’s Avery Stiles could be on his way to becoming one of the best in Montana history.
“The goal for the season was to make it to state again, but I never expected myself to do that well,” said Stiles.
That goal changed a bit on Saturday during the Gallatin Valley Invitational at Belgrade High School when the sophomore did something no other Panther has done before. He cleared 6 feet, 7 inches during the high jump, a school-record.
“I expected to at least go 6-04, because I went 6-foot-5 in practice Wednesday, but nothing like that. It’s just crazy,” said Stiles with a smile.
It’s not the fact that he wasn’t even wearing high jump shoes that make this feat impressive, it’s that he did it after tearing his ACL, receiving surgery six months ago after getting injured during football season
“It’s my first meet back since that, and I’m just really excited and really nervous, to honest,” Stiles said.
But the road to recovery wasn’t easy for Stiles, who competes with a brace on his right knee.
“It was more mentally tough than physically tough, to be honest, because I had to watch basketball and manage that, and that is my favorite sport,” said Stiles.
Now that he holds the school record, Stiles is continuing to raise his ceiling. The sophomore has his eye on more than just a state title after finishing fourth last year.
“The next goal is the Class B state record, which is 6-foot-9. I’m hoping to do that this year, maybe early next year, but that’s the goal right now,” Stiles said.
With the record-setting leap, Stiles has already qualified for the state meet.