Galva junior Peyton Sopiars is cranking up the defense of his state championship.

Galva junior Peyton Sopiars is cranking up the defense of his state championship.

The reigning Class 1A triple jump champ turned in his top effort of the season Friday night — 42-5 to comfortably win the title at Galva’s Dale Collis Invite — and he isn’t about to rest on the accomplishments of his record-setting sophomore year.

“What’s really important is keeping your mind straight and not getting off task with anything at practice,” Sopiars said. “I’ve been working out really hard to get in even better shape than I was last year down at state, and then hopefully I can go down there and do it again.”

Sopiars went on a tear last postseason that culminated with a school-record and title-winning jump of 45-0 3/4 in Charleston.

“Even if I can reach that state-winning jump length, I want to be able to go even further than that,” Sopiars said. “You can never really be content in what you’re doing, and that’s kind of how I’m approaching this year in track. No matter what I’m doing, I want to go farther or faster.”

Sopiars credits senior teammate Caelin Foley with pushing him to improve. 

“That’s the really cool part about having him (Caelin) as a teammate. We’re both trying to make it down to state — and everyone on our team is and we’re all working with each other,” Sopiars said.

“We’re always pushing each other. When he was running that mile (at the Dale Collis Invite), I’m the one with the phone chasing him around telling him what his time is, and he’s always watching me jump and run the 400. It’s really nice to have a teammate like him that really cares. We’re setting goals for each other.”

As the defending state champion, the presence of Sopiars brings a little buzz to the triple jump competition at meets.

“There are some kids that don’t know and I don’t go around bragging about it,” Sopiars said of his state gold medal. “There are some kids that know and talk to me about it. That’s the beauty of it — I’m friends with a lot of kids that triple jump and I’m giving them tips just as much as they are giving me tips and we’re learning from each other.”

“I always go out humble about the triple jump and I think that’s the most important thing — I just want to go out and do my best,” he added.

Sopiars counts his top competitors at last year’s state meet — Dasani Edward of DuQuoin and Ramsey Hunt of Hume Shiloh — among his triple jump friends.

“One, two and three were sophomores last year, so I’ll see them every year,” Sopiars said of Edward and Hunt, who both surpassed 44 feet at state last year. “They’re jumping around what I’m going so far this season, so I’m glad to see I’m around where everyone else is this time of year.”

Sopiars has a goal this season of adding some distance to his Galva record.

“I’m working hard to get there and hopefully by the end of year, I’ll have those phases of the triple jump hopefully even a foot longer and add two or three feet to my jump,” he said. “That would be great if I could end up going 47. That’s the dream and that’s what I’m working for.”