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home : sports : sports August 19, 2017

6/12/2017 9:53:00 AM
Pal-Hut's Kiger wins high jump state title
Sports Editor

Years of hard work and persistence paid off for Palestine-Hutsonville's Nathan Kiger Saturday (May 27).

The recent Palestine High School graduate capped off his stellar career with a state championship, as he won the high jump at the IHSA Class 1A State Finals in Charleston.

"I feel like all of the hard work that I have put in from the past seven years has finally paid off in my last high school meet ever," Kiger said. "I think that was the perfect way to end my high school track career."

Kiger definitely ended on the highest of notes and it was even more sweet because he had come up short in his previous attempts at the state level.

He qualified for state all four years, but did not reach the finals during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Kiger was able to overcome that hurdle in his junior year by making the finals, but he did not place.

Finally, this season he was able to do what not many athletes can - finish their career with a state title.

After jumping 6-2 Thursday to qualify for the finals, Kiger cleared 6-7 to claim the title, as his height was one inch better than DuQuoin's Caleb Vogel, who finished second at 6-6.

"Nathan jumped with joy after he realized he won," PHS-HHS head coach Caleb Will said. "This was an outstanding moment for Nathan, the coaches and community. I'm so proud to see all of Nathan's hard work and determination pay off at such a high level of competition. This is such an amazing day for everyone and one day we won't forget."

With a career-best of 6-8, Kiger believed he would have to surpass that height to win a state title, but as it turned out, he didn't need to get to that point.

"I was thinking that if I wanted to win, I was going to have to go for at least 6-9, but after I cleared 6-6 I knew that I had already won," Kiger said. "I went in with my expectations kind of low on winning state, but as jumpers kept going out and I kept clearing the next heights, I just kind of went in my own little world and blocked everything else out and focused on just jumping. I knew that if I did what I had been doing for the past few years then I would be perfectly fine."

In addition to the state title, Kiger also earned 10 team points with the win, which placed Palestine-Hutsonville tied for 28th in the team standings out of 79 teams that scored at the state meet.

With the win, Kiger continues to make history for himself and Palestine High School. When he signed a letter-of-intent to continue his track career at Indiana State University earlier this month, Kiger became the first athlete from PHS to commit to a Division I school for athletics. Now, he is just the second athlete from PHS to win a state championship. According to the IHSA website, Paul Mail won the state shot put championship representing PHS in 1938 with a throw of 51-1.5. Kiger was also the first Palestine-Hutsonville athlete to place at the state meet since Michal Martinez finished ninth in the high jump in 2004 and is just the sixth athlete overall to earn a medal at the state meet.

"It is still so amazing to think that I am a state champion," Kiger said. "It feels great to do that not only for me and my coaches, but the whole town of Palestine."

Once word of his accomplishment spread, a celebration was quickly thrown together. Upon returning from the state meet, he was ushered into town via police and fire truck escort, while signs adorned the streets as they came through town. A gathering followed at the high school where he was greeted by family, friends and other supporters.

"It was so awesome to see people from the town come together to welcome me back to town when we returned with all the signs throughout the streets," Kiger said.

Will added Kiger deserves all the accolades he has received and believes there is more to come in the future.

"This kid is very deserving of his accomplishments and he will carry this over to the next level," Will said.

2017 IHSA Class 1A Boys Track State Finals

At O'Brien Stadium, Charleston

Team scores - Carthage Illini West 61, Colfax Ridgeview 34, Forreston 31, Decatur St. Teresa 28, New Berlin 28, Rockford Christian 28, Sterling Newman Central Catholic 28, Aledo Mercer County 27, Elmwood-Brimfield 23, Bismarck-Henning 22, Rushville-Industry 20, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 18.5, DuQuoin 18, Hinckley-Big Rock 18, Pleasant Plains 18, Palos Heights Chicago Christian 16, Flanagan-Cornell 15, Pinckneyville 15, Glasford Illini Bluffs 13, Kewanee Wethersfield 13, Tuscola 13, Athens 12, Warrensburg-Latham 12, Nashville 11, Pittsfield 11, Cumberland 11, Warsaw 11, Effingham St. Anthony 10, Lewistown 10, Deer Creek-Mackinaw 10, Madison 10, Palestine-Hutsonville 10, Vandalia 10, Williamsville 10, Belleville Althoff 8, Elmhurst IC Catholic 8, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 8, Lena-Winslow 8, Shelbyville 8, St. Joseph-Ogden 8, Clifton Central 7, Seneca 7, Staunton 7, Tremont 7, Elgin Westminster Christian 6, Kankakee McNamara 6, LeRoy 6, Teutopolis 6, Chicago Leo 5.5, Hoopeston Area 5, Liberty 5, Morrison 5, Peoria Christian 5, Urbana University 5, Altamont 4, Carlinville 4, Casey-Westfield 4, Chicago Ogden International 4, Havana 4, Johnston City 4, Macon Meridian 4, Mendon Unity 4, Oregon 4, Pana 4, Bushnell-Prairie City 3, Chicago F.W. Parker 3, Farmington 3, Tri-County 3, Milford 3, Newton 3, Watseka 3, Farmer City-Blue Ridge 2, Fulton 2, Chester 1, El Paso-Gridley 1, Fairfield 1, Lawrenceville 1, Niles Northridge Prep 1, Taylor Ridge Rockridge 1.

High Jump

1. Nathan Kiger (Palestine-Hutsonville) 6-7; 2. Caleb Vogel (DuQuoin) 6-6; 3. Jace Norman (Carthage Illini West) 6-6; 4. Nick Schultz (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley) 6-5; 5. Tristen Tewes (Pleasant Plains) 6-5; 6. Cameron Getz (Macon Meridian) 6-4; 7. Devin Yocum (Bushnell-Prairie City) 6-4; 8. Vidal Cargo (Chicago Leo) 6-1; 8. Kobe Wells (Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond) 6-1; 10. Quinn Halversen (Rockford Christian) 6-1; 10. Dawson Schulenberg (Orion) 6-1; 12. Keith King (Newton) 6-1; 12. Jordan Tedford (Warrensburg-Latham) 6-1.

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