SIU high-jump star as shocked as anyone else by his success
At least one person was stunned by Austin Weigle's success in the high jump at Southern Illinois University.
That person is Weigle himself.
“I was really an unathletic person,” Weigle told the Southeast Illinois News about when he began the event in the seventh grade. “I'm honestly surprised that I manged to make it to Division I athletics because I never thought I'd even be able to do a sport in high school.”
Weigle certainly has proven himself wrong there. The senior from Kennebunk, Maine, recently was selected as the Missouri Valley Conference male Scholar-Athlete of the Week, according to www.siusalukis.com. That came after Weigle cleared 6-feett-8-inches to win the high jump at the Saluki Fast Start on Dec. 10 in Carbondale, earning him his first event championship in college. The height Weigle cleared – a personal best for him – was ranked 46th best in the nation as of Dec. 13.
Weigle's beginnings in high jump came during middle-school track for him when he was about 13 years old. He was out for the shot put, but being 6 feet tall and 112 pounds did not get him far in that event, Weigle said. He was fooling around near the high-jump pit with some teammates one day and started doing some jumps. He discovered he had a talent for it, and he “rapidly got athletic,” he said, studying the event even without a coach at the time. Weigle said he studied videos online to get ideas for techniques. The high jump soon turned into his preferred form of exercise, Weigle said. He fell in love with the rhythms needed to do a proper jump, with the leap itself making “time slow down,” he said. Weigle also started coaching youth athletes when he was 16.
“I was a good student, but there were times when I was in class and really couldn't think about anything but going to practice and jumping,” he said.
His passion translated into success during his time at Kennebunk High School. According to www.athletic.net, he finished in the top three for three straight years in the high jump in the Class A state meet, claiming the state title in 2014. He also won the state crown in the 2014 indoor season.
When it came time to pick a college, Weigle said he applied to 14 schools, but wanted a school that gave him the ability to study plant biology and be on the track team. SIU had all of these things and the environment he was seeking. He earned a Chancellor's Scholarship for the school and headed southwest from Kennebunk.
“I never heard of a Saluki before, but I'm glad I'm one now,” he said.
At SIU, Weigle got the coaching and training he was looking for and excelled. Prior to this season, Weigle finished in the top 10 at three different MVC Meets, twice in the outdoor season and once during the indoor season.
Weigle said he felt good leading up to the day of his first-place finish.
“Next thing you know, the jump came, and it happened, and I was pretty stoked,” Weigle said.
According to siusalukis.com, Weigle has a 3.80 grade-point average in plant biology.
Qualification for the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week honor include having a minimum 3.2 GPA and being at least a sophomore.
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