Black Hills High School track coach Brad Dudley had the perfect nickname for Kyler Nygren.
“The last couple of years we were calling him the 60-meter guy,” Dudley claimed. “He’s always had a lot of quickness. He could beat everybody at 60 (meters).”
“Last year I was always first at the 60-meter mark because my acceleration is really quick,” Nygren said.
Unfortunately for Nygren and the Wolves, no medals are handed out at 60 meters as high school track does not offer an event at that distance.
It was always a few steps after that distance where things went south.
“As soon as I would get to the 60- or 70-meter mark last year everyone started passing me,” Nygren said. “Their speed would kick in and catch me.”
That’s hardly been the case this year. So much so, that Dudley is now tasked with coming up with a new name for the speedy senior.
Nygren has evolved into one of the state’s best all-around athletes in the 2A classification and has set his sights on helping the Wolves defend their state championship.
“Now he finishes the race all the way through. He’s has the whole package,” Dudley said. “He’s put in the work. He’s doing some 200 work, which he never really did before, and getting the extra work in with the 4×100 relay team and long jump. He just kept getting stronger and stronger.”
At last season’s state meet, Nygren finished fifth in the long jump and helped the Wolves’ 4×100 relay squad pick up a third-place finish – both of which proved to be valuable points as Black Hills edged Lynden for the title.
“We didn’t have one individual state champ last year, yet we got a state championship out of it, which is rare,” Dudley said. “You need what Kyler gave us to win a state championship. And this year he’s improved so much that he now has the potential to win some of those events, especially with the long jump.”
Nygren has posted the third best long jump mark this season among 2A athletes. His distance of 21 feet, 10 3/4 inches trails only Lynden’s Brandon Swarthout (22-3) and River Ridge’s Alex Coleman (22-2 1/2).
Remarkably, it wasn’t even an event Nygren had on his radar when he elected to turn out for track for the first time as a sophomore.
“It’s definitely my best event now, but I didn’t really think much of it when I started. I just thought it was fun jumping in the sand,” Nygren said. “My sophomore year I was only about a 17- or 18-foot jumper.”
His outlook on the long jump changed drastically during last year’s Tiger Invite in Centralia.
“It was just a nice day and I was feeling good and cranked out a 21 foot, 10 inch jump,” Nygren said. “That’s where it all started. I just started getting serious about it after that.”
Nygren has already surpassed that distance by half an inch this season and his goal is to close out his high school days by breaking the school record, which is currently held by Trent Alsin, who holds the benchmark at 22 ½ feet.
“As soon as weather gets warmer,” Dudley said, “he’s going to be tearing it up.”
In addition to the long jump, Nygren is also looking to advance to the state meet in the 100. A year after finishing sixth at the district championships and failing to secure a state berth, he has registered one lightning-quick time after the other.
In the eight times Nygren has participated in the 100 at a meet, he has captured first place four times and second place on three occasions with one of his runner-up performances resulting in a PR when he stopped the clock in 11.24 seconds at the Chehalis Activators Invitational.
Along with his improvement comes the added belief that the Wolves are capable of repeating as state champions.
“We did not expect to win state at all last year, but once we got there we knew we had a shot at it,” Nygren said. “We surprised a lot of people last year. This year is different. Everyone knows Black Hills track now. That’s a different feeling.”
Another new twist this season is the added responsibility of being a captain, something Nygren has embraced.
“I think that’s the biggest change for me,” Nygren said. “All our captains were seniors last year. All I had to do was focus on my events. This year it’s a big change for me, but I know I can make a difference.”
“The kids all gravitate toward him. Coaches like coaching him. He’s just a great kid,” Dudley said. “He’s intense, but he also knows how to relax. He has a good time out there, but when it’s time to get things done, he gets it done.”