Jessica Kyle set a high bar for herself in 2013-14.
The then Decatur sophomore captured the 9-3A cross country title and led her team to a runner-up finish at regionals. Kyle followed up with a successful spring on the track, qualifying for regionals in three events – the 800, 1,600 and pole vault.
“A lot of training paid off,” Kyle explained.
As she heads into her junior year, Kyle is setting loftier expectations. The top goal is seeing her Lady Eagles team lift a 4A state championship trophy in Round Rock in November.
“We were one away last year and third my freshman year,” Kyle said. “Hopefully this is the year. We’ll lose two seniors after this year. This has to be the year.”
Kyle doesn’t have to look far for incentive to work hard to get to the top. Her brother Travis was on the 2012 Decatur boys team that captured the 3A title.
“Seeing how they celebrated – that’s what I want,” Kyle said.
Kyle broke out, according to Decatur coach David Park, last fall with her race at district. She held off senior teammate Haley Dennard to capture the 9-3A title in 12:03.
“Throughout the race, I didn’t expect to be up at the front,” Kyle recalled. “I ended up first. It was a personal accomplishment and felt good.”
Kyle ran 11 seconds faster the following week in the Class 3A Region II race in Grand Prairie, finishing fourth in 11:52.
“I had a good race,” she said.
Getting to Round Rock, Kyle said she put too much pressure on herself. Kyle was the Lady Eagles’ third finisher at state, completing the 3,200-meter course in 12:23.02 for 29th.
“It was great. I was worn out and my nerves got the best of me,” Kyle said. “Hopefully this year, I push that aside.”
In the spring, Kyle captured silvers in the unusual combination of 800, 1,600 and pole vault at the 9-3A meet. She ran 2:28.17 in the 800, 5:47.32 in the 1,600 and cleared 8 feet in the pole vault.
“I like competing and being side-by-side with other competitors,” Kyle said.
She took fourth in all three events at the tough 9/10-3A area meet, improving her times in the 800 and 1,600.
At the 3A Region II meet, she finished fourth in the 800 and seventh in the 1,600. In the pole vault, she was 13th.
Kyle said the spring helped her confidence going into the fall. But she is quick to point out there is a lot of work in front of her and her teammates.
“I want to make it back to state and, with all of us working together, win state,” Kyle said. “We need to work extra hard.”