Daylon Daily: Top Place Mindset

First track meet presents new opportunities



Daylon Hicks jumps over the 6-foot-4 bar on Jan. 14 at The Podium in Spokane.

DAYLON HICKS, Evergreen reporter

After the long and strenuous workout I faced throughout the fall semester, all my hard work would come to light in the Spokane Invitational. As I was laying in my bed the night before the competition, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander. It’s crazy to think about how far I have come with this sport. I started to compete in track seriously after my sophomore year of high school after I placed fifth in the California Interscholastic Federation Track and Field Championships.

Before that accomplishment, I was doing track as a hobby, a way to socialize with friends and not  expect much. Fast forward to now, jumping at the collegiate level is astonishing to me. I woke up bright and early at 5 a.m. to prepare for the bus that would depart an hour later. As I walked in the snow, the 20-minute walk I had to face was treacherous.

Despite the snow, my mind was too focused on what I needed to accomplish in this meet. My main goal was to stay consistent throughout my approach to the bar and to stay explosive. I started to feel myself peak during practice, where I was jumping high bars due to my consistency, so I wanted to emphasize that goal and do well before I head back to California for the winter break. 

When I reached my destination outside of Bohler Gym, the goosebumps and nerves came in, but not because of the cold. I always have the tendency to get my nerves out during the bus ride, but because the competition started early at 9 a.m.,  it was hard to feel nervous when I was mainly tired. The majority of the bus ride just centered on getting some rest, but when I woke up, I saw the indoor stadium of the Podium, the indoor facility where I would soon enter competition. 

At this point of the trip, my mind was set on my goals, but also on making an impression. The first meet of the season presents the mental challenge of competing against other high jumpers across the country that come from different backgrounds.  

I was focused on myself and doing the best I could. After finishing my warm-up, I only got one practice attempt over the bar due to the bus arriving late. On the first jump at 6 feet 2 inches, everything felt natural and I made it with ease. Coach Derick Hinch said something that would stick with me for the rest of the meet: “That was a great attempt, don’t change anything.” 

Once he said that everything worked out smoothly where I jumped 6 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 6 inches effortlessly on the first attempt. This was the first time in my indoor career that I felt as if I could do no wrong. It was truly poetry in motion how I was arching my back over the bar. Despite the success I was achieving in this meet, I wanted to chase after more and go for a new personal best of 6 feet 8 inches. 

The first attempt was the first miss I had in the meet as I just felt flat because the run was not as strong as my other attempts. My coach instilled his thoughts on making sure that the run stays strong and everything else would work itself out. On the second attempt, the run was much improved, yet I missed it because my spikes barely hit the bar, which was enough for it to drop. I did not receive any advice from my coach, because we both knew what happened, and it came down to mental toughness on the third attempt. 

On the third attempt, the spectators watching and the other athletes in the area disappeared in my mind. It was just me and the bar. I truly felt as if this would be the one, until I came back to reality after a misstep. Even though I missed my goal, which would have been a new indoor personal best, I still won the meet and all the goals that I set for myself came to light. 

I learned to trust myself more in my progress and to take advice from those who wish me well such as my coach. With that meet under my belt, I could rest easy and enjoy the winter break before competition picks up again on Jan. 13.