Senior duo Kyle Clancy and Nate Harper have Davis High boys track rising toward a title
By THOMAS OIDE | Contributor
It’s a basic law of physics:
What goes up, must come down.
But for Davis High track standouts Nate Harper and Kyle Clancy, temporarily defying gravity is part of their daily lives.
Harper is one of the top pole vaulters in the state, and Clancy is one of the most well-rounded athletes in the area, specializing in the high jump and long jump.
As juniors, both were key pieces to last year’s section title-winning boys track team at Davis, the program’s second title ever. Harper finished third in the pole vault, while Clancy scored 28 points individually to help the Blue Devils finish 16 points ahead of second-place Woodcreek.
Clancy’s and Harper’s success stems from their participation and preparation during the Davis summer track camp. At times, the two train in solitude as the intense summer heat beats down and radiates off the turf at Ron and Mary Brown Stadium.
“It’s really crappy being out here alone when no one else is around,” Harper said of the summer workouts, “It’s 100 degrees — probably hotter on the track — but putting in that work has made me better. It gives you a lot of time to think about the upcoming season and what your goals are.”
Clancy has participated in the summer camp since the fifth grade. During elementary school, while many kids spend their summers playing club soccer or travel baseball, Clancy was out on the track preparing for what was to come.
Clancy’s work paid off immediately as he became somewhat of a track prodigy at Harper Junior High. He consistently dominated at several different events, a trait that has stuck with him to this day.
The senior is close to breaking Davis records in the high jump, long jump and 110-meter hurdles, a testament to his versatility.
“Kyle has a really diverse skill set. Athletically, he is successful in a lot of different events, more so than a lot of other track and field athletes in the state” Davis coach Spencer Elliott said. “On top of that, he has a great attitude and a great work ethic.”
Clancy’s versatility was inspired by one of his role models, former Blue Devils track star and current Duke University decathlete, Ian Rock.
“Ian was always out here during the summers when I was learning to do all the events,” Clancy explained. “He’s definitely been my inspiration for doing well: I always find myself thinking, ‘What would Ian do?’”
Harper on the other hand, has had a special connection to the track team and pole vaulting. His dad, Rick, coaches the event for Davis. The elder Harper vaulted in both high school and college, and father and son have bonded over the event. They have two high bars set up in their backyard so both Harpers can work on perfecting their craft: one to coach and the other to compete.
“It’s really sick having him as a coach, because at home we can work on stuff that other kids don’t have the opportunity to do,” Harper explained. “We analyze film at home for sometimes hours.
“He used to coach me in baseball, and he would yell at us, but I felt when he yelled at me it was personal,” Harper added with a laugh. “In pole vaulting he doesn’t yell at the kids. It’s more of a supportive environment. And because we have such a good relationship, I can be honest about how I’m feeling on a certain day.”
Elliott says he appreciates Harper’s work ethic, and that the senior pole vaulter will be a key cog in Davis’ quest for a second consecutive section title.
“Nate is more specialized and he’s incredibly hard-working,” Elliott said. “He’s been out there working really hard with his dad even before he was on the track team. He jumped 16 feet (at the Halden Invitational meet) which makes him a state leader in that event right now.”
Both Davis standouts will continue to compete at the Division I level. Harper will compete in the SEC at the University of Tennessee while Clancy will follow in the footsteps of his mentor Rick and become a decathlete at Cal Poly in the Big West.
Before his first college scholarship offer, Harper had dreams of attending culinary school to eventually become a chef. But as scholarship letters began to trickle their way into his mailbox, Harper decided to change his plans. He considered Cornell University, Cal Poly, Indiana University and Tennessee, his eventual choice. In Knoxville, Harper will likely pursue a degree in agriculture or environmental science.
“When I went there it was crazy how awesome it was,” Harper said of his future school. “Just the campus itself and the facilities they have are insane. I just felt at home.”
Clancy seems settled on Cal Poly after considering Colorado as well as a campus close to home: UC Davis. Clancy epitomizes the phrase “student-athlete” as he has a passion for advanced physics, and hopes to eventually become an engineer.
“I love track but I know that academics will last a lot longer, so I wanted to have a good degree for engineering,” Clancy said of his choice. “And after that, I didn’t want to go anywhere crazy: I like California weather.”
But college is still four months away, and the two childhood friends have their sights set on winning Davis’ first ever back-to-back section team titles in track. Individually, Harper hopes to be the second state-title winner in the pole vault from Davis and Clancy wants to put on an individual show at the section and state meets in his three events: long jump, 110-meter hurdles and high jump.
“It’s pretty nice to know where you’re going to college because you can just focus on track,” Harper said. “Honestly, if we won at state, I would probably cry because it would just be a storybook ending.”
No matter what happens in the next two months, the two jumpers will always remain track enthusiasts at heart. They constantly strive for improvement by learning new things about their events, and will closely follow each other’s collegiate careers despite being 2,000 miles apart.
“One thing that puts Nate and me apart from anybody else is that we’re students of the sport,” Clancy said. “We follow all of the NCAA track — some of the coaches aren’t even that into it. We’ve studied more film than anybody else, and we just enjoy doing that and being in the whole track environment.”
If their careers continue their arc, future students of the game may be studying the efforts of Clancy and Harper.
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