|Doane’s Gaston awarded All-American honors in heptathlon|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Friday, 25 March 2016 16:46|
Doane College senior Kyle Gaston cleared 6-8 1/4 at their conference meet. The high jump is one of seven events Gaston participated in during the heptathalon at the NAIA meet. (Courtesy Photo)
By Kara Consention
The Grant Tribune-Sentinel
“Once an All-American, always an All-American.”
Those words, from his coach Ed Fye, echoed in Doane senior, Kyle Gaston’s mind as he competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) Indoor Track and Field heptathlon.
Gaston qualified for nationals by being in the top 16 competitors in the nation.
The heptathlon is a track and field event with seven parts: the 60-meter dash, high jump, shot put, long jump, 60-meter hurdles, pole vault, and 1,000-meter run.
Previously a basketball player, Gaston switched from basketball to track and field at the end of his sophomore year for a chance to compete more.
“I thought about it quite a while and finally I approached Coach Fye of the track team who was thrilled to hear I was interested.” Gaston explained by the end of his first track season, he was exclusively competing in heptathlons.
“It was a major cultural shift for me to switch from basketball to track,” Gaston said. His first year on the track team was rough. He dealt with injuries from his body adjusting to the new track workout.
Gaston said, “This year, maintaining health is my main focus. On top of staying healthy, Coach Fye and I met up every morning during the school week to work one-on-one for individual events.”
Gaston said this helped him learn “the technical side of all the events, which helps a lot when every little inch or second matters so much.”
His hard work paid off. Going into the national meet, Gaston was 10th in the nation. The top eight earned All-American honors. Gaston had his goals set high.
He told his teammates he didn’t have butterflies in his stomach. He didn’t feel an adrenaline rush. He was completely calm. Which actually made him nervous. However, he started the meet off with a personal record. “After that first personal record, I knew I was ready to go and I wasn’t going to let my goal of becoming an All-American get away from me,” he said.
The grandson of Lois Gaston and the late Al Gaston of Grant, and the son of Rod and Pam Gaston of McCook, he had big shoes to fill.
“The other major motivation besides…[the] chance to earn All-American, was to beat my Gaston family record in pole vault. The meet before I beat my father’s record of 12’6” with a 12’7” vault. I knew this meet I had to beat my uncle, Steve Gaston’s, record of 13 feet,” he said.
“I was on my last attempt at 13’3” and I told myself with no doubt in my mind that I was going to clear this height. The thrill of once I cleared that height was almost as exciting when I found out I was an All-American.”
Gaston explained that even though he was excited about clearing his pole vault goal, he still had to stay calm.
“One of the unique things about the heptathlon for me is I need to stay relaxed between events, jumps and throws, but ready to go when I was up to compete.”
The last event Gaston competed in was the 1,000-meter run. At that point, he was in ninth place and down by 70 points from seventh place. He had to beat the person in seventh place by seven seconds.
His coach gave him words of motivation before he ran—telling him how he had worked for this, that this was his “chance to become an All-American.”
And he did. Gaston ran fast enough to surpass ninth, eighth and seventh place in the national heptathlon competition.
He stole sixth place with an overall score of 4,784 points, which earned him All-American honors.
Besides being a track star, Gaston is also an academic star. He has received the Environmental and Earth Science Achievement Award, which is given to the most outstanding environmental science student at Doane College. He also received the NAIA Scholar-Athlete scholarship for his superior GPA.
Graduating in May with an Environmental and Earth Science major, and a Business Administration minor, Gaston will be moving to Colorado this summer to work as a park ranger, a job that is very important to him.
Gaston noted, “I have always enjoyed the outdoors, which made me want to pursue an Environmental degree. My goal is to help preserve the environment for future generations to enjoy.”
A treat for Coach Fye
A special treat for Coach Fye was getting to coach his niece, senior Breanna Fye, to a runner-up finish at the national meet in the pentathlon.
Breanna, the daughter of Marty and Pam Fye, didn’t even place in the event at their conference meet when she was a freshman, Fye said. As a senior, she was a team captain.
He noted she has come a long way and had a really solid meet. She had a shot at taking first based on her time in the final event, the 800 meters.
However, she came in behind her teammate, Paige Hervert, who won the pentathlon title as a freshman.
|Last Updated on Friday, 25 March 2016 16:52|