Photo by Michael Kinney
By Michael Kinney
Anthony Riley literally jumped onto the scene last year when he won the 6A state long jump championship. In the process, the Westmoore High long jumper set a state championship meet record with a leap of 24-feet-5.25 as a sophomore.
Because of that Riley headed into this season looking to take the track and field world by storm. That included setting his sights on the state long jump record, which was set in 2007 by Hugo's Derrick Locke at 25-4.75.
Riley personal best of 24-10 is just short of the record, so he had every expectation of putting his name at the top of the list as a junior.
However, due to a hamstring injury, Riley's season hasn't gone as planned. He is still winning tournaments, but some of the goals he had set for himself had to be put on hold.
As Riley heads into the postseason and looks to defend his long jump title, he sat down with Oklahoma Mile Split to talk about the season, his injury and the future he sees for himself.
Michael Kinney: How did you do at the COAC (Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference) Championship?
Anthony Riley: Oh, I didn't do too good. I jumped a 22-9.
Kinney: Why do you think it wasn't as good as you wanted?
Riley: Everybody today seemed to be jumping like at least a third below what they usually do, but for me right now, I'm still trying to get back from my hamstring injury, so that's mainly what it is.
Kinney: What place did you get?
Riley: I got first.
Kinney: You still get a first, and not obviously be at your best. What's that say about where you at right now?
Riley: I feel like I'm at a really good place. Hopefully, once I get healthy, I can start doing better like I was last year, and hopefully PR'ing again, that's what I'm hoping to do.
Kinney: Obviously you've got regionals coming up and the start of the postseason. What are the goals or expectations that you have for the upcoming next two meets?
Riley: Of course, get first at regionals, and then make it to state and then get another State championship.
Kinney: What do you think it's going to take to be able to do that?
Riley: I'm not sure, I haven't really seen anybody jump anywhere in the 23's, so hopefully if I get like high 23's, low 24's that will win it.
Kinney: Well, how do you just classify this year overall? How's it been for you?
Riley: It's been hard. I've had to face a lot of adversity trying to get back from this injury, because it's been over I think a month and a week, and it's still bothering me. But, I'm trying to get healthy, do my body right, stretch more and drink a lot of water. So, it's getting better.
Kinney: I'm sure after everything that you did last year, you were hoping to be able to come out, break records, and destroy everybody, but how has your mindset ... how have you been able to deal with that as you manage your hamstring injury?
Riley: It really hasn't changed my mindset. I'm still trying to go out there and beat everybody. But, I don't know. It's just ... It is what it is.
Kinney: So are you just hoping to be able to get through this season, win State, get another title and then get your body right for your last year of high school?
Riley: Yeah, that's exactly what I'm hoping to do.
Kinney: At that point, are you hoping to end your career with a few more records?
Riley: Yeah, most definitely. I want to get the actual overall State record, trying to beat the 25:4. So, yeah. That was 4A.
Kinney: If you're able to do break that at some point, just how special would that be for you?
Riley: Man, it'd be real special. I'd be really happy. I'd be proud of myself because everybody's like, "Oh, you got the State record," but then I'm all like, "Well actually, I'm right below, it's like second place."
Kinney: Now was that something that you thought you'd have a chance to get this year?
Riley: Yeah, that's exactly. I was hoping to progress at least a foot this year, but seeing how the injury came, I've got to deal with it.
Kinney: When did you hurt your hamstring?
Riley: It was the week I came back from basketball. I went all basketball season without getting an injury, and then I came this year and just pulled my hamstring on a sprint. It was bad. I should have stretched better.
Kinney: You think that's what it was, just not stretching out better?
Kinney: So pretty much this year is a learning experience for you then?
Riley: Yeah, learn and get your body right, treat yourself right. Get healthy.