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Marble Falls’ O’Riley finishes season at NCAA national meet

Oklahoma freshman high jumper Kason O’Riley completed his first season as a Sooner by being one of 24 athletes to compete at the NCAA Division I outdoor track and field championships Friday, June 10.

O’Riley, who was one of two true freshmen in the field, no heighted on the opening height of 6 feet 10.75 inches.

“This is going to hurt,” said O’Riley, a 2021 Marble Falls High School graduate.

To his credit, O’Riley didn’t offer excuses though some are obvious such as competing in front of more than 12,000 people in an atmosphere like no other he’d experienced. Not even high jumping at the Class 5A state meet at the University of Texas’ Mike Myers Stadium and winning the gold medal in 2021 prepared him for what he encountered at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon’s campus in Eugene. In addition, he normally enters the competition when the bar is set at 6-8. But NCAA officials decided the opening height would be 6-10.75, a little higher than what he’s used to though he pointed out that most of the jumpers flopped higher than that mark.

“It was the little things,” he said. “I didn’t execute my jumps right. I didn’t get a good warm-up. I only got three warm-up jumps. My legs felt like they weren’t awake.”

But by making the field, O’Riley earned honorable mention All-American.

Now that his season is over, O’Riley will take a little break before starting online classes and training while returning home. He plans to return to Norman in mid August. O’Riley credits many people for his success, including Sooners vertical jumps coach Jerel Langley and senior high jumper Vernon Turner, a training partner at the University of Oklahoma. They helped him manage his time, stay on top of his training and school work, and helped him adjust his diet to view food as fuel. He also still has former Marble Falls coach Scott Johnson’s initials where he can see them. Johnson died before O’Riley graduated.

“My first year was definitely a blessing,” the Sooner said. “This year was like no other. I’ve never competed in an atmosphere like that in Eugene. It was electric, it was fun to be apart of. It was definitely a fun year for me. My team made it a great experience.”

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