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Lafayette senior track athlete Michael Tyler Jr. is currently in the middle of a breakout indoor track and field season.
This season, Tyler set his personal record in the high jump by clearing 6-foot-9, is currently ranked eighth nationally in the high jump among high school athletes and recently committed to Division I Hampton University for track and field on Feb. 3.
During his Feb. 3 official visit to Hampton University, Tyler said he fell in love with the brotherhood and camaraderie surrounding the school and track program. Tyler felt such a good vibe during his visit that he sought Hampton Track Coach Maurice Pierce to verbally commit to the Pirates.
Committing to college has been a good first step for Tyler, who has never been satisfied with being average and has many goals he still wants to achieve, which includes earning All-American honors during the New Balance National Indoors in March.
Tyler’s motivations to jump higher go beyond just wanting to prove himself against other top athletes in the state and nationwide. His motivation goes back nearly 10 years to May 4, 2006, a day that forever changed his life: His then 29-year-old father, Michael Tyler Sr., was fatally shot in the stomach as he walked along Walnut Drive in Yorktown.
As a 7-year-old at the time of his father’s murder, Tyler has had to cope with the loss in the best way he knows how — athletics.
Before he attempts a jump, Tyler always prays and hopes to get as high in the air as possible. The reason: “I’m jumping higher to get closer to my dad,” he said.
As Tyler has progressed as a high jumper — he cleared 6-foot-4 during the 2015 outdoor track and field season — he has moved closer to elite territory.
During this season’s first Bay Rivers District indoor track and field meet, Tyler set his personal best mark of 6-foot-9. This mark would have earned Tyler a top-10 finish during the 2015 USA Track and Field Junior Olympics.
Tyler has aspirations to qualify for this year’s Junior Olympics and has his eyes set on hitting the 7-foot-4 standard for the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials.
Being among the best in the nation is something Tyler takes seriously, admitting he checks the national high jump rankings daily.
With a firm belief that his father’s spirit is “driving him” to be a better athlete and person, as well as a commitment to excellence, Tyler can be expected to top plenty of rankings moving forward.