Roscoe pair regain health, then qualify for state track meet

Ron Howell
Sports Editor

Jayden Gonzales and Bonnie Wilkinson saw their 2018 high school track season end in disappointing fashion at Roscoe.
Gonzales, a regional qualifier in the pole vault as a sophomore, made it only to the area meet as a junior. The news was even worse for Wilkinson, who won a gold medal in the triple jump at state as a sophomore and also made it to Austin as a freshman.
As a junior, she qualified for the area meet but a hamstring injury she suffered while competing in the triple jump ended her season prematurely.
“After I won at state, the triple jump had been my main focus,” she said. “It was very disappointing. It really sucked not being able to go to state.”
Gonzales then suffered a freak accident last May that was so bad that it delayed the start of his 2018 football season as Roscoe’s quarterback. While working a job, both of Gonzales’ feet were crushed after a skid steer bucket completely detached.
He was in a double cast for most of the summer, but still managed to get healthy enough in that time to play in the team’s first scrimmage in August — until breaking his left foot again. Gonzales had surgery on the foot three days later and was sidelined until finally getting to play just before the start of district in early October, where he performed well enough to earn all-district second team recognition.
Both managed to stay healthy until the start of the current track season, but there were still a few pitfalls.
Gonzales no-heighted in the pole vault in his first meet while Wilkinson, after a great start in which she triple jumped 36-2 her first meet, sprained her knee and competed sparingly until the district meet held during the first week in April.
Then it started changing for the better.
Gonzales won the district pole vault with a personal-best 13-9 and Wilkinson won the girls triple jump as she went 35-7. She also advanced in two other events.
Then it got even better at the area meet. Gonzales broke a 26-year-old school record set by Shae Sanford with a vault of 14-3 to make it back to regionals. Wilkinson qualified in three events, again winning the triple jump with a leap of 36-4 1/4 while placing second in the 400 dash and anchoring the mile relay to a fourth-place finish.
But for Gonzales and Wilkinson, the biggest goal was still unrealized. She wanted a third state trip; he was still hoping for his first UIL appearance as they both prepared for the regional meet.
It happened in a big way for Wilkinson, who qualified for state with a school record triple jump of 37-5 1/2. That broke her own mark of 36-11/2 as a sophomore when she won gold at the state meet.
Roscoe girls track coach Lindsey Mann said Wilkinson didn’t realize how far she had jumped. “She thought it was 36-something. Then she found out it was 37-5 1/2. We were all amazed. It was beautiful.”
“I had a feeling it was good,” Wilkinson said of her record jump.
Gonzales wasn’t able to match his 14-3 pole vault under less-than-ideal conditions, but the news was still good as well as he jumped 13-3 to earn a first trip to Austin.
It was an exhausting day for the senior as Gonzales had a long jump-off with Cross Plains’ Theron Allen to decide a winner before taking second place.
Gonzales said he is definitely looking forward to competing in Austin.
“It’s my senior year, so I’m going to enjoy (the experience),” he said. “Going to state will be kind of a celebration for me.”
And next year he will compete in the vault in college for McMurry University in Abilene, after being approached by one of their coaches at the regional meet following his state qualifying jump.
Wilkinson will also compete in Abilene next year for Abilene Christian University and will rejoin her older sister Lyndi, who also had a standout track career at Roscoe. Bonnie thinks it will take another school record to win gold at Austin. “I know it will be hard, but I know I can do it,” she said.
Mann admits that it’s been an uphill battle for her two senior state qualifiers to get healthy. But, she added, “They’re hard workers and they know they are capable of. It’s nice to see it pay off like this.”
Gonzales’ mother, Roscoe assistant girls track coach and head girls basketball coach Shella Arnwine, agrees with Mann’s assessment of Gonzales and Wilkinson. “Both are tough kids. I’m biased, though. Jayden is my son and Bonnie is one of my Plowgirls,” she said. “I love them both.”

Pictured: Roscoe UIL track and field state qualifiers Jayden Gonzales and Bonnie Wilkinson compete Saturday in Austin.
Photo by Ron Howell