On the first attempt of his college career, Scott Gill broke Taylor University’s long jump record.

It only got better from there.

Gill’s freshman track and field season produced one highlight after another. And the best moment of them all came in the event he least expected.

Kentucky high school’s male track athlete of the year for 2007 only dabbled in the high jump during his time at Russell.

Midway through his initial season at Taylor, Gill cleared 6-feet-6 — two inches higher than his high school best and good enough to meet the qualifying standard for the NAIA National Championships.

Gill made the best of his opportunity, however, by going 6 feet, 9 3/4 inches to finish fourth and gain All-American status.

“If somebody at the beginning of the season had told me that was going happen, no way would I have believed it,’’ he said. “It would have been preposterous.’’

But that’s before Gill began working closely with veteran jump coach Dave Bowers, the brother of Taylor head coach Ted Bowers.

“He’s got so much experience,’’ Gill said. “Dave Bowers has coached day in and day out for about 35 years. He has so many drills and exercises that work on getting you up higher. I worked on so many things, like acceleration and my degree of angle coming to the bar.’’

Gill listened and worked, doing his best to apply the techniques.

“If you were talking to my brother, he would say that Scott is really coachable,’’ Ted Bowers said. “If you teach Scott something, he tries to take the knowledge and put it into practice right away.’’

Gill’s work ethic and athletic ability allowed him to progress quickly.

“In high school, I jumped up and cannon-balled over the bar,’’ he said. “I actually have form now.’’

Even so, Gill was amazed by his performance at the NAIA nationals in St. Louis.

“There were 30 or 35 guys that made it to nationals in the high jump , and 6-6 was the lowest height,’’ Gill said. “When I was signing in, I told them I wanted to come in (start) at 6-2. They said the opening height was 6-5 3/4. I was freaking out on the inside.’’

But not for long. Gill cleared the opening height on his first try, and did the same at 6-7 1/2.

“I was thanking God that he gave me these legs,’’ Gill said. “My teammates, family and girlfriend were all there watching.’’

When the bar was raised to 6-9 3/4, Gill didn’t blink. Again, he was successful on the first attempt.

Gill called the feat the best achievement of his athletic career.

“If I had gone out at 6-7 1/2, it still would have been one of my best accomplishments,’’ he said. “I never would have guessed I would have come out of this event an All-American.’’

Gill credits his jump coach.

“(Dave Bowers) played a father role to me all during the track season, to push me and make me excel,’’ Gill said. “I love him to death.’’

Bowers stepped down as assistant coach after the 2008 season.

“I’m going to miss him,’’ Gill said. “But he said he will be there every once in a while. He has coached so many All-Americans at Taylor.’’

Gill is the latest on the list. His long jump of 23 feet, 6.75 inches broke a record in the Mid-Central Conference meet, where he also finished runner-up in the high jump, fourth in the triple jump and seventh in the 200 meters.

Gill received All-American honors in the National Christian College Athletic Association, including a No. 1 ranking in the long jump, and was part of a strong 400 relay team.

He started track practice almost immediately after his first basketball season at Taylor. The Trojans finished 20-12 under Paul Patterson with Gill appearing in 11 games.

“It was a year of learning for me,’’ he said. “I’m looking forward to playing more next season and building off my freshman year.’’

For the second consecutive summer, Gill is working at a basketball camp at Anderson.

“It’s a great school,’’ he said. “I don’t think I could have made a better choice.’’

Ted Bowers is excited about having Gill back for three more track seasons.

“Part of the deal for Scott next year is raising his level of consistency,’’ said Taylor’s coach. “He has not reached his potential by any means.’’

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.


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