Dave Stapleton knew it was just a matter of time before his former BYU college buddies came calling for his kids.
The 6-foot-7 Stapleton, who made three trips to the outdoor and one to the indoor NCAA Track and Field Championships, set the BYU high jump record of 7-5 1/2 in 1983, which still stands today.
Cougars coach Ed Eyestone was on the track team at BYU in the 1980s with Stapleton, and current BYU jumps coach Mark Robison — whose father, Clarence, was the head coach when Stapleton and Eyestone were on the men’s team — knew one of Stapleton’s six kids might have something to offer.
They got a gem in 6-1 Andrea Stapleton, who will follow in her father’s footsteps by competing Saturday (2:50 p.m.) in the high jump at the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene.
“I often tell people the best way to be a world class athlete is to choose your parents wisely,” Eyestone said with a laugh. “She has taken that DNA and worked hard.”
Andrea Stapleton was among the the top 12 jumpers at the West Regionals in Austin, Texas, last month, earning a spot to nationals.
“Honestly, the idea of going to nationals is still new to me,” she said Wednesday after a practice session in Eugene. “You have these goals and dreams and you work for them. It’s an eerie feeling. I can’t believe this is happening.”
Eyestone, a two-time Olympian in the marathon, said Stapleton has the temperament, talent and desire when it counts.
“With Andrea, she is business as usual,” he said. “Regionals is the first step, and we are always concerned. There is no such thing as a sure thing, but with her, she got the job done and is going to Eugene.”
Stapleton, a 2015 graduate of Kamiakin High School, will be up against some stiff competition Saturday.
Madeline Fagan of Georgia, who was second at last year’s championships, returns to the field, as do top 10 finishers Laretta Blaut of Cincinnati (6th) and Chelsie Decoud of Texas State (7th).
Opening height is 5-8, which is about the average height Stapleton opens at.
“It’s kind of crazy when you think about it,” she said. “In high school, I’d start at 5-2, now it’s 5-6, 5-7 or 5-8.”
At regionals, Stapleton jumped just four times to book a trip to nationals, finishing fifth with a height of 5-10 1/2. Once she knew she was in, it took a moment to soak in.
“I thought, ‘this is crazy, I can’t believe I got in,’ ” she said. “I went in the stands and hugged my coach (Robison). I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s been like a second father to me. He’s fun to be around and that makes for a good environment to be in.”
After a rash of injuries hampered Stapleton’s 2016 season, Robison said he is happy to see her back in her element.
“She is extremely talented,” he said. “Last year she had some crazy injuries. She had some great jumps, but was inconsistent. This year she has done well with the mental aspect — that she can do this and deserves to be here and compete with these other women. Things are going well and this weekend she has an opportunity to see where she stands.”
Stapleton has had a highlight reel season this spring.
She took first in four meets (Weber State Twilight Meet, BYU Robison Invitational, Utah State Mark Faldmo Invitational and UVU Collegiate Invitational), and was second at the 38th annual Sun Angel Classic.
She cleared a personal best of 6-0 1/2 at the (indoor) Air Force Invitational in January, placing second to Shelley Spires of Air Force (6-1 1/2). The mark tied her for sixth place on the all-time BYU top-10 records list with Lindsey Steele Metcalf.
Stapleton is just 1 1/2 inches shy of tying the school record of 6-2, set by Melinda Boice-Hale in 1994 (outdoor) and Chris Wilson in 1989 (indoor).
“That felt surreal,” Stapleton said of soaring over 6 feet. Six feet is a big marker for women. It’s a big deal to get over that mark. Shelley Spires and I — we both did really well. You are charged with energy in these situations. When you feel the air under you, and you land on the mat — you fly for just a second, and it is awesome.”
Stapleton will be joined at BYU in the fall by her 6-2 sister Allison, who will play on the volleyball team.
And don’t think Eyestone and Robison weren’t trying to coax her into doing track. Allison placed second at the 3A state meet in the long jump and triple jump last month. She also holds the Kamiakin triple jump record at 38-11 1/2 — a record she took from her sister, whose mark was 38-8.
“I was fully counting on her to break it,” Andrea said of her record. “I’m so grateful for all the good memories with my sister. We did volleyball and track together for two years. That was special. It’s a bummer she isn’t coming to BYU to do track, but she loves volleyball. I’m just glad she will be here. I don’t know if the BYU campus is ready for the Stapleton girls.”