As a shy freshman back in 2015, Miranda Gilkey rarely left Lady Tiger Head Track and Field Coach Sandra Johnson’s side. Yet she displayed a talent that belied her slight build. “I’ve coached Miranda since she was in middle school and she was always a real natural, you could tell she had a knack for jumping,” said Johnson. “We started her high jumping and then Coach Skeen took over for the triple jump and now she’s long jumping too.”
Three years ago she won her first regional championship in the high jump and is positioned to make it four in a row next month. Three times she has cleared 4’10” at the 2A state meet-moving up the podium a few steps each year. Gilkey finished sixth as a freshman, third as a soph, became a state champion last season, and is the favorite to repeat the feat this spring. As a triple jumper her form has become what Coach Johnson says “should be a training video for how it’s done.” Gilkey has finished in the top three three times at Regionals and among the top four in previous visits to the state meet. She has also ran the 300 hurdles the past two years with a pair of top eight finishes at state.
Friday afternoon in the NCHS auditorium in front of several friends, classmates, teammates and coaches, Miranda put ink on paper confirming a long-driven dream. She signed her letter-of-intent to continue her track and field career at Chadron State College. “I’ve always wanted to play sports in college, and I guess it just happens to be for track,” smiled Gilkey. While financial assistance is still in the process, Gilkey has a few marks to hit in her final month as a Lady Tiger to improve the scholarship. As the spring season began, high jump and triple jump were Miranda’s main events. But then she cleared 16’ in the long jump, and that was added to the scholarship offer. Since then Gilkey has also pre-qualified for state in the 300 hurdles and with the 4x100 relay team. Athletes are only allowed four events at state so Gilkey, Johnson and Skeen have some decisions to make before May 17. The Lady Tigers are off to a strong start and are in the mix for regional and state contention.
This great event is a culmination of hard work, coaches that care and outside support as she will graduate from NCHS the day after state track is over. A three time volleyball letter winner, four time basketball letter winner (2x All Conference, 2018 All State), and has already done enough to earn a white letter on the asphalt, Miranda will go down in school history as one of the finest athletes in years. “We had some communication with coaching staff (which most of them are gone since I was there), but to help a kid get back in the program I came from is pretty awesome,” said Skeen. “She’s excited and wants to do this, and with that attitude she’ll do well over there.”
Miranda will be studying physical therapy when she gets to Chadron in the fall in an attempt to further her career and eventually help younger athletes. “I’ve had all my friends and teammates standing behind me all these years, and now I’ve got to move on and meet new friends and teammates, added Gilkey. “I’m just glad I had so many supporters here today.”