Philpott finishes on top

Mancos High School graduate wins a 2A state title in the high jump

Kenny Philpott signs a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field, high jump, at Colorado School of Mines in April. Philpott’s mother, Jennifer Hanson, sits with him at Mancos High School. Assistant coach Adam Priestly stands, back left, with coach Alan Mathews and assistant coach Brady Archer. Enlargephoto

Mancos Times/Jeanne Archambeault

Kenny Philpott signs a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field, high jump, at Colorado School of Mines in April. Philpott’s mother, Jennifer Hanson, sits with him at Mancos High School. Assistant coach Adam Priestly stands, back left, with coach Alan Mathews and assistant coach Brady Archer.

Kenny Philpott won every high jump event his last two years at Mancos High School.

Except one.

That one runner-up finish came as a junior at the 2011 Colorado High School Activities Association, track and field state championships.

Being a senior in 2012, Philpott was determined to take gold.

“Winning state is something I always wanted to do,” he said.

The key to winning a 2A state championship was remaining consistent. Philpott high jumped to a school and personal record of 6 feet, 6 inches multiple times this season and stayed around a height of 6-5 most of the year. Philpott even battled a sore knee at times to hold his No. 1 ranking the whole season, until state.

Chandler Dohe of Limon leaped 6-6 a week before state to tie Philpott atop the 2A standings.

No problem.

“I look for consistency. That kid had jumped 6-2 all year. I’ve been jumping 6-5, 6-6 all year,” Philpott said. “I’m really consistent. He wasn’t as consistent as I was. It didn’t really phase me that much.”

What did challenge Philpott was the elements of weather. The first two days at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood were sunny and warm. Come time to jump Saturday morning? It was rainy, windy and cold.

Again, no problem.

Philpott was able to still jump 6-4 in the rain. Other athletes heights continued to drop like the rain Saturday. Chris Epps of Peyton jumped 6-3 for second-place.

It was Philpott’s height that earned him a much coveted state championship.

“It was definitely something. I wish the weather would have been better to jump higher,” Philpott said. “Being up on that podium when they call your name, it was a good feeling.”

Dohe finished third-place at 6-2.

Bluejays coach Alan Mathews couldn’t be prouder of his four-year star, but he wasn’t surprised with the result.

“I think Kenny had the ability all season to be a state champ. He worked diligently toward that goal,” Mathews said. “He had to battle the weather elements. It shows the heart of a true champion. He’s only lost one time in two years. That’s a pretty big feather under his cap also.”

Philpott and his fellow seniors hopped on the bus and trekked home Saturday, and they graduated from MHS on Sunday.

Come August, Philpott will be at practice again doing the high jump. But the 18-year-old will be in Golden at Colorado School of Mines.

Philpott committed in April to a track and field scholarship for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, NCAA Division II Orediggers.

Mines coach Art Siemers got to see his incoming athlete in action Saturday.

Philpott definitely didn’t disappoint.

“I had been focused. I was completely focused towards that,” he said about winning state. “I had the Mines track coaches up there watching me. I tried to make the most of it.”

Philpott will start practice in August to prepare for the indoor track season in the winter. The season shifts outdoors for the spring.

“We’re definitely proud of him. I think it’s really the beginning for Kenny,” Mathews said. “When he gets to college, he’ll keep climbing the ladder and do great things at School of Mines.”

When Philpott climbed to 6-6 for the first time, Mathews made a phone call to Siemers.

The rest is history.

“The next day after I jumped 6-6, my coach said: ‘I can call the coach of Mines. I know him,’” Philpott said. “A couple days later, I got a call (from Siemers). It’s going to be fun. Hopefully, I can become a really good high jumper in college.”

The civil engineering major has Olympic size goals beyond college.

“It all depends on how I do in college. If I get to that point — if I’m that good — then probably,” said Philpott of possibly training for the Olympics.

Ultimately, the most important part of attending School of Mines is education. The Golden school is one of the nation’s top engineering institutions of higher learning.

Philpott will be covered academically, too. He received a full-ride Daniels Fund Scholarship that will cover nearly $120,000 in expenses over four years.

Philpott, who is the son of Jennifer Hanson, thanks his coaches and teammates for his time at Mancos.

“The coaches, they always helped you out, and it was a great bunch of kids,” he said. “I’m going to miss them.”

Mathews feels fortunate to have coached Philpott.

“He’s been part of our program since middle school. We knew he was a good athlete, a good high jumper,” the coach said about Philpott. “Each season, he just kept getting better and better. When he was a junior, we knew he would be special. He matured a lot as a person and never complained. He just did what the staff asked of him. He showed a lot of growth as a person.”

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at bobbya@cortezjournal.com.

Kenny Philpott just misses a jump of 6 feet, 7 inches in March after winning the Panther Invitational high jump event with a jump of 6-6 at Panther Stadium. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Kenny Philpott just misses a jump of 6 feet, 7 inches in March after winning the Panther Invitational high jump event with a jump of 6-6 at Panther Stadium.