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Saturday Sports Buffet: Golden moment

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, May 3, 2014

From the stands at Mike Myers Stadium on the University of Texas in Austin last May, Sharon Neighbors watched nervously as her daughter Nicole competed on the state’s biggest stage.

“I was a bundle of nerves,” she recalls. “It’s worse with your kids. You just have to get over it when you are the one competing.”

Thirty-one years ago, Sharon Peyton was on the same stage, winning the Class 3A gold medal in the high jump. The then Bridgeport junior cleared 5-5 to claim the top spot.

Bringing Home the Gold

BRINGING HOME THE GOLD – Sharon Peyton Neighbors won the 3A high jump in 1983. Submitted photo

“It’s still a special feeling when you’re first on the medal stand,” she said.

A strong athlete, Neighbors said it took a lot of lonely hours on the high jump mat to become a state contender.

“High jump is an event that requires a lot of hard work,” she said. “I spent a lot of time jumping by myself.”

As a sophomore, she narrowly missed earning a state spot. Neighbors tied for second at regionals but lost a jumpoff.

Her junior year, she held on for second at the 1983 regionals to earn a trip to Austin to compete for a state title.

Walking into the massive Memorial Stadium where the state meet was held at the time, Neighbors didn’t know what to expect.

“It was a unique experience,” she said. “It was very exciting and daunting.

“My junior year, there was no pressure to win, and nothing was expected. That helped me a bit.”

Neighbors missed her first two attempts at 5-4 before getting over the bar on her third attempt. With the bar at 5-5, she sailed over it. Her two competitors missed the height in their attempts, making Neighbors the state champion.

“All the hard work had paid off,” she said. “I worked extremely hard for that.”

Her senior year, she returned to state. After committing herself totally to training, changing her eating habits, she reached a new personal best of 5-7 at the state meet. She ended up with the silver medal as Brandy Stubblefield of Splendora jumped 5-8 for gold.

“My senior year I was proud of what I accomplished because I cleared the height that I couldn’t before,” Neighbors said. “I had more of a sense of accomplishment.”

Also during her senior season, Neighbors’s coach Tina Slinker helped her get the opportunity of a lifetime to work out with 1988 Olympic high jump gold medalist Louise Ritter.

“She gave me some good advice,” Neighbors said. “It was the highlight of the year to work with her for 30 minutes to an hour.”

Since her days on the medal stand, she’s been able to watch her daughters – Natalie and Nicole – compete on the state stage in cross country and track. From her experience, she tried to pass on some advice.

“Some of it naturally passed on with how Randy and I raised them,” she said. “I tell them, if you want to go that extra mile, everything matters.”

Winning Effort

WINNING EFFORT – Sharon Peyton Neighbors clears the bar at the state meet in 1983. She won the 3A title clearing 5-5. She returned in 1984 to win a silver medal. Submitted photo

SIDEDISHES

  • Anyone that might question the athletic ability of golfers didn’t make the trip around Wolfdancer Golf Course at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort this past week. The hilly, 7,000-yard course wore down the legs of spectators who weren’t carrying around a bag full of clubs. Along with the hills and distance, golfers had to battle fatigue and tightness over rounds that lasted more than six hours. That amount of time takes away any rhythm for golfers and turned this week’s tournament into a battle of attrition
  • No matter how their series turns out this weekend, it’s been a great two weeks for the Decatur Eagles. After dropping four of five, the Eagles have fought back to win three straight despite not having their top pitcher. It’s a great job by Chris Carter and his staff
  • Best wishes are sent out to one of the best guys in the business, Boyd girls basketball coach Lynn Cranfill. The sharp-witted coach was diagnosed with brain cancer last month. He is undergoing treatment. We can’t wait to see him back on the bench and giving sports writers a well-deserved hard time
  • Wise County will be represented heavily at the state track meet next weekend with athletes qualified in 14 events. Decatur’s Taylor Clayton, Boyd’s Dalton Stidham, Northwest’s Kerry Gleason and Slidell’s Kayson Roof are all qualified in multiple events. Roof owns the most unusual combination of events, making state in the pole vault and 300 hurdles. Among the best stories of state qualifiers is that of Chico’s Marshall Anderle, who made it to state in the triple jump while competing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament
  • Don’t expect the Mavs to pull off the upset this weekend or to even get the series past game six Friday. But I also didn’t expect the series to get this far
  • The event that is second on my sports bucket list, the Kentucky Derby, is this weekend. Unfortunately at this time, I don’t have a pick for you. My advice is to find a good closer. The Derby is a good race for a stalker.

One Response to “Saturday Sports Buffet: Golden moment”

  1. Stacey Whitt says:

    Peyton (now Neighbors) was a force back then. Great story and even greater legacy being written today by Sharon and Randy. Wishing you both the best as you press on in life.

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