By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — When it comes to sports, McAlester senior Kyler Thompson keeps finding himself in the same pattern. He’s always seemed to start a sport later than his teammates, then have to play catch-up.
Take football, for example. Thompson grew up in McAlester and started playing football in the sixth grade, but he then skipped his sophomore year and then lost his junior year to ineligibility.
“I wanted to quit to play basketball, but I didn’t really like not being in football,” Thompson said Thursday. “Seeing them winning games and having fun and everything made me miss it and want to come back.”
Because of those two years away, Thompson entered this season lower on the depth chart than many of his teammates. Though he’s gotten some playing time on the varsity kickoff team, Thompson has had to draw most of his satisfaction as a receiver on the scout team, which every week tries to mimic the playing style of the Buffs’ upcoming opponent.
“My goal was just to help the team get better any way I could,” Thompson. “And then, (I liked) being part of a brotherhood, because playing didn’t really matter to me as long as my team was doing well.”
Thompson has been a wide receiver since he joined the Puterbaugh team in the seventh grade. But he began as a running back and said he still sometimes misses it, especially “finding the open holes, and then being able to pick up yards.”
Friday will mark Thompson’s final football game at Hook Eales Stadium, and his final football season will end at most two weeks after that. Football is also a family thing for Thompson, as both his uncle, Kendall Thompson, and brother, Don Bowles, played for McAlester High School.
Thompson started powerlifting after his freshman football season, but he said that when he skipped football his sophomore year, he skipped powerlifting as well. Thompson rejoined the powerlifting team as a junior, winning a regional title in the 145-pound weight class, placing 10th at the state powerlifting meet and contributing two team points towards the Buffs’ 5A state powerlifting title.
A three-sport athlete, Thompson said he enjoys powerlifting most of all.
“That’s got to be the best feeling, getting hyped before lifting,” Thompson said.
“I just try to get stronger in any way and do anything I can to help my body, to get the heaviest weight out of my body that I can.”
Similar to football, Thompson said his opponents at State seemed more developed and farther along. Thompson said he plans to do powerlifting again this year, and he has his sights set on winning a state title.
Once powerlifting ends, Thompson said he plans to return to the track and field team. Thompson started that spring sport in junior high, took two years off, then came back to it last year.
Though he could only jump 5-foot-8 at the beginning of last season, Thompson said he added six inches across the spring, eventually jumping 6-foot-2. He qualified for the 5A state meet in the high jump and finished 13th.
Though again Thompson said he felt like he was playing from behind, the entire 2012 Buffs track team had to play from behind, as they had no practice track due to construction at Hook Eales Stadium and basically could only train at meets.
This spring the Buffs should have their track complex back up and running, hopefully leading to improved track and field performances across the board.
“I want to win it,” Thompson said of the state high jumping competition. “The person that won it cleared 6-6, and that was (former Buffs high jumper Zach) Skimbo, so just four inches away from my height. I think I can get four inches in a whole year.”
Though powerlifting may be his favorite sport, track seems to be Thompson’s future. He said he’ll attend Bacone College in Muskogee next year on a partial track scholarship, and he plans to major in international trade.
When asked what interests him about international trade, Thompson said, “Money. You can put that in all caps.”
When he has free time, Thompson said he enjoys playing golf and watching TV. His favorite class at McAlester has been his senior English class, which has exposed him to British literature such as Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale.”
Throughout his athletic career, Thompson has often found himself having to catch up to his teammates.
But once he’s caught up, Thompson has usually found ways to excel.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.