Jett Kinder and Skylar Coffey were both hoping to break state records this season.
Not to mention a three-peat for Brentwood in Large Class boys track and field.
But neither one got the opportunity as spring sports, including track, were canceled in mid-April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Not getting a chance to do that was kind of frustrating,” said Kinder, an Oregon signee. “I felt like I was on course to shatter the decathlon record. The pole vault record would have been a little harder, but I thought I had a great chance in the decathlon.”
Memphis University School’s Harrison Williams set the decathlon record with 7,597 points in 2014. He set the pole vault record a year earlier with a 16-6.
Coffey was breaking the state record in the discus consistently at practice, but never got to try for the mark when it counted this season.
Bearden’s Joshua Sobota, now at Kentucky, set the record with a throw of 191-2 in 2018.
“I wanted to beat the state record and everything,” said Coffey, a Tennessee signee. “I trained for this, I felt robbed. It’s kind of a trip that I can’t really get it at the state meet.”
Coffey said he was throwing about 195 at practice.
“I could have easily beat it this year, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” Coffey said.
After winning team championships in 2018 and 2019, the seniors were confident they could bow out with one more this spring.
“No doubt in my mind, especially with Jett and me on the team, we could have three-peated easy,” Coffey said.
Kinder won state titles in the decathlon and pole vault last season. He was bidding for his third straight pole vault title.
Coffey captured championships in the discus and shot put in 2019.
“We only got stronger as a team this year,” Kinder said. “Skylar is obviously an absolute animal and then I think I could have brought a lot of points to the table. And then our distance runners --- Brody Chapman and Kevin Vanderkolk – their times have gone down a lot.”
Kinder was 521 points short of breaking the state decathlon record in 2019, but all of his events took off in the offseason, giving him reason for optimism.
With over 86,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. as of Thursday, Kinder is able to keep things in perspective.
“Everything that’s happening had to happen for a reason,” Kinder said. “You have to take all precautions.”
Kinder tried to learn Russian early in the pandemic and has been reading more than normal during the lockdown.
He’s been training in a makeshift weight room in his garage and a hill to run on in his yard.
“We have a shot put, discus and javelin and I can throw those in my yard and down at the field in the neighborhood, so I’ve been able to keep up with a lot of events,” Kinder said.
His father, Gary, is a former U.S. Olympian who competed in the 1988 decathlon.
“His influence has really been everything from his track competition perspective to even how he’s been my coach my whole life,” Kinder said. “So, his impact has been everlasting.”
With the stay-at-home order ending in Tennessee May 1 and businesses gradually reopening in Williamson County this week, Kinder was relieved to finally see some friends in small groups this week.
“The sooner we get back to normal the better because then I can go visit the track again,” Kinder said. “Oh, it’s so hard because that’s basically where I was raised. It’s almost impossible to stay away from the track.”
Kinder is eager to join Oregon’s tradition-rich program.
“It’s awesome just thinking about all the history there with their great decathletes like Ashton Eaton and their great runners like Galen Rupp, who have really changed the course of history of track and field,” Kinder said. “It’s awesome to think that I’ll be able to be there and hopefully put my name up there one day.”
Oregon is opening a new track stadium in July that will seat 12,900 and be expandable to 30,000. It will host the world championships next year.
Kinder’s final five also include Tennessee, North Carolina, Air Force and Navy. He reports to Oregon on Sept. 25.
Coffey wasn’t sure how to react initially when he found out the TSSAA canceled the season.
“I wanted to be angry, I wanted to be mad,” Coffey said. “I was trying to figure out: Why did this happen? Honestly, after (a while), I did start to get mad. I started to get angry.”
Coffey has been working out with weights in his garage during the lockdown.
His parents, Otis and Frederica, both attended Tennessee. Otis played football for former coach Johnny Majors.
“It wasn’t really my parents, I wanted to make my own decision, honestly,” Coffey said. “I had to do what I wanted to do, but there was something about Tennessee that hit home better than any other university.”
His older brother, Jeremy, is a former Tennessee State running back and his sister, Katherine, is a sophomore on Louisville’s track and field team.
She was a two-time state champion in the shot put and discus at Brentwood from 2017-18.
Coffey is just as good, if not better, in wrestling where he won the Class AAA 285-pound state title the past two seasons.
His career record was 152-14, including 130 pins. Coffey was named the TSSAA outstanding wrestler after finishing his senior year with a 48-1 record.
“Skylar is, for a heavyweight, one of the most explosive athletes I’ve ever been around,” said Bruins wrestling coach Damon Smith, a former Oklahoma State wrestler. “He wrestles like a 182-pounder in a heavyweight’s body.”
His typical weight was 245 pounds, putting him against heavier opponents.
A two-time All-American, Coffey was a major-college prospect in wrestling.
“We had him college scholarship (offers) from some of the best wrestling programs in the country: Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina,” Smith said. “Man, I had coaches from all over the country calling me about him.”
Coffey said he might coach wrestling someday.
“He is a well-rounded, well-spoken, God-fearing, respectful human being,” Smith said. “Really great kid.”
Brentwood boys track and field coach Steve Brock said he’s never coached anyone like Coffey and Kinder.
“Our goal was for Skylar to be a six-time state champion, which would have been pretty special,” Brock said of his track and wrestling titles. “Jett will be competing in track and field for a long time. Jett and Skylar are definitely two of top kids that I’ve ever been fortunate to coach.”
There are 150 athletes on Brentwood’s boys and girls track teams.
After a fifth-place finish at the state meet last season, the Lady Bruins also had high expectations.