CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Kylon Drones made countless sacrifices during his track and field career.

Competing at the NCAA Division II Track and Field National Championships included one of the most difficult sacrifices because it meant missing his sister Kristina’s high school graduation.

“It kind of bummed me out,” Drones said of missing the graduation. “I really wanted to be there to support her as she walks across the stage, but I knew nationals is once in a lifetime just like (her high school graduation). I earned my way into nationals, so everything I’ve been working for was going to pay off then.”

Drones, who is gay, ended his West Texas A&M track and field career by competing in the 110-meter hurdles at the national championships, which were hosted by Johnson C. Smith University on May 24-26 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

West Texas A&M senior Kylon Drones stands outside the 2018 NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He finished 14th of 19 runners in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.44 seconds.

“I wanted to run just a little bit quicker,” Drones said. “I would have run quicker had I hadn’t hit the ninth hurdle.”

Drones said he started his race slow through the first three hurdles. He got in a rhythm on hurdles four through eight that put him in position to advance to finals.

“As I was getting up there and really getting into my swing, I realized that I was getting close to the front of the pack and I had a chance of actually getting one of the automatic times to get into the final,” Drones said. “I guess that kind of through me off, and I wasn’t really concentrating as much as I should have been. I snapped down over the hurdle too soon.”

West Texas A&M senior Kylon Drones (right) and U-Mary’s Josh Lamers compete in the 110-meter hurdles on Friday, May 25, 2018, at the NCAA Division II Track and Field National Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Though that race ended his track and field career at West Texas A&M, Drones isn’t done wearing the maroon and white.

Drones decided to join the cheer team.

He is returning in the fall to complete his bachelor’s degree in sports and exercise sciences, and he wanted an extracurricular to occupy his free time. He chose being a cheerleader.

“I hate having free time, so I tried out for the cheer team,” Drones said.

The 2018 season was the first full indoor and outdoor track and field season for Drones since coming out publicly in February 2017.

This season, he realized that he sacrificed nothing to live openly. Instead, he benefited from it.

“When I finally went public with it, everybody was really supportive,” Drones said. “Being able to express myself and be able to compete was just so much better. I feel like I actually did compete a lot better after I was publicly out.”

Kylon Drones can be found him on Facebook, or on Instagram @Kylon_Drones or Twitter @Kylon2014. You can also reach him via email at [email protected].

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBTQ. Results are for competitions that took place May 21-June 3.

Division I

Jace Anderson (junior, Nebraska men’s track & field), Konrad Eiring (junior, Illinois men’s track & field), Dawson LaRance (freshman, Minnesaota men’s track and field), Derek Wiebke (redshirt senior, Minnesota men’s track & field), and Antonio Woodard (redshirt sophomore, Iowa men’s track & field) competed at the NCAA West Preliminary in Sacramento on May 24-26. Woodard helped Iowa’s 4×400-meter relay place seventh (3 minutes, 3.69 seconds), ran on the 4×100 that finished 11th (40.04 seconds), and came in 15th in the 200 meters (20.93 seconds). Iowa’s 4×4 and 4×1 advanced to the NCAA Championships. LaRance finished 34th of 48 runners in the 800 meters (1:51.96). Anderson came in 35th out of 45 men in the triple jump (48 feet, 11 3/4 inches). Wiebke took 43rd of 47 runners in the 1,500 meters (4:03.18). Eiring ran on Illinois’ 4×400-meter relay, which received a DNF.

Lowell McNicholas (assistant coach, Wisconsin men’s rowing) and Nich Lee Parker (head coach, Columbia men’s lightweight rowing) had their teams competing at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships on Friday to Sunday in West Windsor, New Jersey. Parker guided his varsity eight to a national championship in Sunday’s grand finals on Mercer Lake. McNicholas’ Wisconsin team finished 11th.

Kirk Walker (assistant coach, UCLA softball) saw the season come to an end Sunday with a 12-6 loss to Florida State in the national semifinals of the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. The Bruins (58-7 overall) went 2-2 at the WCWS with wins against Florida State and Florida on Thursday and Friday, respectively, before a pair of losses to the Seminoles on Sunday. UCLA advanced to the WCWS with two wins against Arizona on May 24-25 in the Super Regional.

Division II

Mark Johnson (assistant coach, Tampa baseball) ended the season with an 8-7 loss to No. 1 seed Florida Southern on May 23 in the NCAA South Regional final. The Spartans (42-11 overall) went 3-2 in the NCAA South Regional.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @HallErik or Facebook. If you are an out LGBTQ athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.