YODER – Senior Tylar Stoddard is unafraid to step up and try any event in track and field.
Over the course of her career on the Southeast High School outdoor track team and the Torrington High School (THS) indoor team, Stoddard ran the 800-, 200- and 400-meters. She competed in the long jump, a “little bit of high jump” in junior high and the full gamut of relays – from the 4x100-meters to each leg of the sprint medley relay.
“I’ve even been put in the 100 once,” Stoddard said. “I’ve kind of been put wherever my coaches need me.”
One event stands out for Stoddard above all the others, however – the triple jump. Stoddard holds the Southeast High School outdoor triple jump record at 35 feet, 1 ¼ inches and she snagged third place in the event at the 2023 1A State Track and Field Championships in a battle for the top three spots that came down to less than four inches.
“Every single time I think about the triple jump, I get that fire in my gut and the urge to go and get it,” Stoddard said. “I love the feeling of setting a goal, working for it and accomplishing it.”
Stoddard’s adaptability and talent in track and field caught the attention of college recruiters. At a ceremony on January 4, the Platte River School senior signed to compete on the indoor and outdoor track teams for the Black Hills State University (BHSU) Yellow Jackets, where she will specialize in the triple jump.
BHSU head women’s track coach Austin Billings said he is “excited” to welcome a large freshman class to the team next year.
“We’ve worked hard to re-invigorate the culture on the team, and Tylar will be a huge part of that,” Billings told the Telegram. “Tylar is everything we are looking for – she has a great attitude and is always cordial. She is athletic and we recruited her for a reason. She will hit the ground running as a freshman.”
Stoddard began her track career in junior high, following in the footsteps of her older brother and sister – “she was a track star.”
“I wanted to try it out, see it for myself,” Stoddard said. “I liked (track) instantly. I come from a family that is rough and tough and I love the mental and physical challenge.”
Track involves significant “mental toughness,” Stoddard noted.
Stoddard learned to center herself on the task at hand, from getting pumped up for an event by blasting “screamo rock” on her AirPods to getting into the zone while competing.
“When I get out there, I try to focus on the little tips and tricks that my coaches have given me throughout the years,” Stoddard said. “I keep telling myself, ‘The end is close. Finish hard. Finish strong. Run it as fast as you can and it will be over faster.”
Stoddard’s goal is to hit a mark of 37 feet in the triple jump this winter in indoor track team and add another foot to her mark this spring. At Stoddard’s level, however, every foot of improvement will involve a fight.
“If you think about it, it’s just one foot per phase (in the triple jump) that you have to add,” Stoddard said. “It seems so easy. But at the same time, the movements and the speed and different techniques you need – every single little movement is so crucial. If you can get those down, you can hit 38 feet.”
Reaching a mark of 35 feet at the state championships in 2023 proved memorable.
“I had been working at triple jump, and working at triple jump,” she said “When I hit that 35 mark, it was insane for me.”
Stoddard is also involved in the Southeast FFA Chapter and participates in 4-H and she served on the leadership team for both organizations.
Stoddard thanked her family, coaches and FFA chapter for their support and instilling in her the “grit” to succeed.
Stoddard is interested in studying sociology and criminology at BHSU and she looks forward to competing at the next level on the track team with a new family of teammates.
“Every single person on that team wants to be there, and every single person wants to be a part of something and achieve their goals.”