Skyler Saunders starts career with a bang

Skyler Sanders celebrates her high school graduation with members of her family: (L-R) Zoe (sister), Jenny (aunt), Skyler, Mattie (sister), and Sue (mom). Sanders broke the school high jump record in her first collegiate meet.

Records have been set as the Washburn Track and Field teams have began the new season. This is the third season Washburn has been back on the track and field landscape after a 30-year hiatus. One of those new record holders is freshman high jumper and triple jumper Skyler Saunders.

Saunders went to Valley Heights High School in Blue Rapids, Kansas. While competing as a Dragon, she experienced success both individually and as a team. Saunders was a three-time state champion in the high jump, along with a ninth place finish her freshman year. During her junior year, Saunders’ set the state title with a 2A state record in high jump with a jump of 5′ 8.5″. Saunders claims this as her biggest accomplishment in her track career.

Having the opportunity to break the record was a bit of a shock for Saunders.

“I was the last competitor and the height went up, and they asked me what I wanted to go up to next and I said I don’t know like 5-feet-8-inches,” Saunders said. “They said the record is 5-feet-8.25-inches, so if you go higher than that you’ll break it and I was like excuse me what? So, I said sure throw it on there, another half an inch.”

Saunders also helped her team win the state title her junior year and place second her senior year.

Saunders is the daughter of Sue Saunders and has two younger sisters Mattie, a high school junior, and Zoe, an eighth grader. They both go to school in Beatrice where Saunders lives.

She is currently majoring in physics, hoping to later move on and get a degree or a masters in meteorology. 

“Career-wise, I would like to go into broadcast meteorology,” Saunders said.

With track being such a time commitment, there is hardly any time to spare that Saunders doesn’t want to relax.

“I don’t know what a weekend is anymore. I’m really close with my roommates because four of the five of us are on the track team, so I like hanging out a lot with them,” Saunders said. 

One of the many activities Saunders participated in during high school was forensics. She took part in the IDA and persuasive speaking events and during her junior year she qualified for state. She enjoyed her experience, saying everything after that was so much fun.

Although she jokes that she hasn’t done anything cool in a long time, Saunders thinks going scuba diving would be a lot of fun.

Her college career started with a bang when she broke the school high jump record at her first meet. She said the adrenaline of having all of her teammates watching her and slow clapping the final jump played a big part in her success.

One of those teammates, Kacee Klozenbucher, was thrilled to see her teammate break a school record.

“It was super exciting to watch Skyler break the school record. It was even more exciting that it was the first meet,” said Klozenbucher. “It’s always satisfying to watch your teammate succeed in what they do. I’m happy that I could share that experience with her. Skyler, along with the rest of the track team, have started this year off great.”

Saunders, Klozenbucher and the rest of the track team return to action this coming weekend on Friday and Saturday when they travel to Missouri Southern.