BOULDER — Not many high school athletes can achieve what Avery Stiles did last year.
Six months after tearing his ACL during football season, Stiles, a then-sophomore at Jefferson High, found himself on top of the podium at Class B state track meet.
Stiles broke the school record in the high jump by clearing a distance of 6 feet, 7 inches, and he captured the state title levitating to a distance of 6-6.
His ability to perform after tearing his ACL in football was shocking to the Panthers coaching staff, and players, according to coach Sarah Layng
"(How he did) was pretty surprising to us," Layng said. "I don't know what he did, but he rehabbed (his injury) pretty hard by doing a lot of strength training and physical conditioning."
Layng expressed confidence Stiles, now a junior, could break his record as he prepares to enter the spring season.
"He has potential as well to break (the school record) again this year, and I think he could break (the school record) again," Layng said. "He could qualify for state in the triple jump, if he wants to, now that is fully recovered, and he is the type of athlete that sets the bar high, and achieve what he wants to."
As a track coach, Layng said she could identify kids with great natural athletic ability.
"You can always tell when an athlete has athletic ability, a good work ethic, and drive to succeed in athletics, and he has all of those," Layng said.
Now entering her third season as Stiles' coach, Layng sees his gradual improvement as he cultivated his natural athletic ability year after year.
"He works in the summer in the weight room on his building his strength and he works so hard in everything else he does," Layng said.
Stiles participates in several track events in the offseason, which allows him to stay in shape for the other sports the three-sport athlete competes in with the Panthers.
He also excelled in football and was a pivotal component to Jefferson advancing to the divisional tournament in basketball. That was the first time the Panthers reached the divisional tournament in three seasons.
Stiles says he's fully healthy and recovered from the torn ACL, a feat Layng said is rare in high school athletics to improve in such a short period of six months from the time he tore it playing.
He ended up winning an Class B state title in the high jump, and Layng has even higher expectations for the junior, who only looks to add hardware to his trophy case.
"Track is very important (to Avery), and he takes it seriously," Layng said. "He is a good role model, and a leader for other athletes, especially the younger ones, and helps them by offering them tips. And helps them pace with the other athletes, and is encouraging with them too."