At Starmount’s first track and field meet in 2011, Hunter Welborn tried the high jump for the first time in competition.
She finished second once that season. Except for that one meet, she has won the high jump at every competition. And she has not missed a meet.
During the 2012 season, Hunter cleared five feet, nine inches to set a new school record.
At the 2012 and 2013 2A state championships, Hunter won the high jump.
In the fall of 2013, she was a member of the Starmount volleyball team that won the 1A state championship.
In 2014, she won both the triple jump and the high jump at the indoor state championships.
Hunter, as Starmount track and field coach Emily Curtis puts it, “is the most decorated athlete at Starmount High School.”
She’ll have a chance to add to those totals at today’s 1A state track and field championships at North Carolina A&T. Even her relay teams, the 4x100 and 4x200, are strong enough to to be in the mix for a title.
None of this has gone to Hunter’s head. “She’s really humble,” Curtis said. “She’s such a gracious winner.
“I remember when she was a sophomore. She was at state. I told her, ‘when you win, I want you get up on the mat and jump up and down.’ She said, ‘No, I can’t do that’. I see her later. She’s just walking off. I asked her, ‘did you win?’ She said, “yeah.” I asked her, ‘is that it? You just won state.’ She said, ‘Yeah I did, didn’t I?’
“It’s not something you see in a teenager who’s won like she has.”
She’d like to reach five-nine again, but she’ll settle for five-eight in the high jump. Five-six won the regionals and five-six has won the 2A championship the past two seasons.
“That would be great to get there again,” Hunter said, adding that when she cleared five-nine “I guess my adrenaline was just pumping. That was just a good meet.”
“She doesn’t have that been there, done that attitude,” Curtis said. “Sometimes they lose a little focus. Not Hunter. I don’t see her getting complacent with what she’s done.”
A gymnast from early on, Hunter has the flexibility to excel at high jump. “I took it from when I was as young as I remember to seventh grade,” she said. “I still do a lot of back bends; a lot of stretching to stay flexible.”
Hunter said following her older sister, Chandler, to her sporting events made an impression. “It made me want to compete in track and field and other sports,” Hunter said. “And she’s just always been there.”
Hunter said she also owes a lot of her success to former Starmount jumper Olivia Gough. “She was a junior when I was a freshman,” Hunter said. “She helped me a lot.
“And she has come back and supported me.”
Gough attends the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Coach Chris Peoples, she said, helped her as well. “He really knows a lot about technique.” Peoples is an athletic trainer at Wake Forest now.
Her father, Mike, is often close by when she competes; especially in high jump and triple jump. It doesn’t bother her at all. “I like him telling me what I’m doing wrong,” she said.
And now, Hunter the senior is doing her part for her teammates.
“I really rely on Hunter a whole lot to get them to understand the basics,” Curtis said. “She is willing to get in there and work with them.”
She’ll attend Appalachian State this fall. “I’m getting more excited,” she said. “Especially when I went up there and met some of the girls. It’s getting exciting. Just to compete in athletics at the college level.”
While she is not certain, Hunter has an area or two she’d like to explore. “I think sports medicine,” she said. “Having a gym would be neat, too.”
But first things first and that’s the high jump, the triple jump, the 4x100, and the 4x200 today in Greensboro.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.