It would be accurate to say that Travis Porter came out of nowhere last year for the Timberlake High School boys track and field team.
It also would be accurate to say he had to step out of a shadow, cast by a teammate who didn’t turn out, to achieve success.
And now that Porter is a known entity on the 3A state level, the next challenge will involve dealing with the pressure of being a defending state champ.
“I’d rather come out of nowhere – like I did last year,” Porter said, smiling.
Porter knows he can’t. That’s what happens when you win a state championship in the triple jump and tie for second in the high jump as a sophomore.
More is expected in the encore season. Or, at the very least, the same.
But even Porter is expecting more. And that’s a good sign.
Porter captured a state title in the triple jump a year ago, leaping 43 feet, 2 ½ inches to win by a quarter-inch. It was a personal best by 14 ½ inches.
He tied for second in the high jump with a leap of 6-2. He also qualified for state in the long jump, but it was an event that he did mainly as a way of scoring points for the Tigers at district.
The long jump is still secondary to his other events, but he hopes to jump in the 20-6 range and score points at state next month in Boise.
He went to a camp last summer at Idaho State University where he worked mainly on high jump. He wants to increase his personal best to 6-4 and crack 44 feet in the triple jump.
“He came through for us at a time when we really needed him,” Timberlake coach Brian Kluss said.
The Tigers were hoping to defend their state title – or, at least, put up a respectful challenge. They did, as the Spirit Lake school finished second with 94 points. Payette won with 110.
A defending state champ from the year before didn’t turn out, leaving the Tigers somewhat short-handed.
That’s where Porter stepped up big time. By doing so he put himself on the state radar for this season.
“We didn’t expect him to win a state title last year, but we thought he’d be in the top three (in the triple jump),” Kluss said.
Porter competes in events where a mistake, by the tiniest of a fraction of an inch, can be the difference in a personal best or a scratch.
Take, for example, his winning leap in the triple jump last year. His plant foot was about three inches short of the board. So counting that and the fact the board is about four inches long, Porter knows he has the potential to push 44 this spring.
“I think it’s going to come, especially as he gets some confidence back,” Kluss said.
Porter has battled a heel issue early this season. He’s finally wearing heel cups in his shoes to keep from aggravating the injury.
Most of the top jumpers return this year. So Porter knows he will have his work cut out for him.
“It won’t be handed to him, and it shouldn’t be,” Kluss said. “It makes it all the more sweeter when you win.”
Assistant coach Rob Ranney expects Porter to round into form by season’s end.
“We haven’t had temperatures above 60 degrees yet, and he’s jumped over 41 feet. He’s where he needs to be,” Ranney said.
Porter was a starter this winter for a young Timberlake basketball team. He averaged about eight points and seven rebounds per game. The Tigers will return four starters next year.
Porter’s first love, though, is track.
Capturing a state title last year was more than he could ask for.
“It was very shocking,” Porter said. “I just wanted to do the best that I could. I didn’t have any idea I could win state. I was just doing what I’ve been taught to do by coach Ranney.”
Porter’s lone goal was to eclipse 42 feet. He did that with ease.
He has his eyes focused on the school record (43-5¾).
As for the likelihood that the stiffest competition awaits him at state, Porter will be ready.
“I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said. “People will know who I am. I can’t sneak up on anybody this year. That will add a different dimension to things this year.”