Up and away! Tyler Lee senior smashes pole vault record at state meet


Branson Ellis arrived at the UIL state track and field meet hoping to win a gold medal, perhaps clear a personal-best height in the Class 6A pole vault.

He accomplished both of the goals — and so much more.

The senior from Tyler Lee, who is bound for Stephen F. Austin, broke the 6A record with a jump of 17 feet, 7 inches. After fist-punching the air following his feat, he was told that the previous record (17-6½) had been broken. Ellis became an instant star at the meet, which concluded Saturday night at Myers Stadium.

But he wasn’t through.

Roughly 10 minutes later, Ellis cleared 18 feet. That brought the fans on both sides of the stadium to their feet. Still, he wasn’t done. Ellis was energized by the rhythmic clapping, and the fun was just beginning.

“My previous high was 17-4, so I was aiming about a foot higher than my best,” he would say later.

Ellis shocked the crowd again, clearing 18-3¼, a state record for any classification. Another fist punch. Another roar from the crowd.

Ellis would eventually fall short, missing three attempts, at 18-8¼. That would have broken a national record (18-4¾) set by Chris Nilsen of Kansas City, Mo., in 2016.

“I had expected to have a mark because I had done well before coming here,” said Ellis, stopping short of saying he expected to set records. “This means the world to me. I’m hoping the records stand for some time, but I’m sure they won’t. Records are made to be broken. That’s why they’re there.”

Stony Point senior Dereck Elkins highlighted a group of Central Texas athletes who earned Class 6A medals late Saturday night.

In his first trip to state, Elkins earned gold in the 1,600 meters, hitting the tape at 4 minutes, 13.19 seconds.

“For this to happen, it means all the work paid off,” said Elkins, who will run next spring at Texas State.

Cedar Ridge senior Evan Nafe finished his high school career by earning a silver medal in the 200 meters. Cy Fair senior Eddie Sumler won the race in 20.68, with Nafe following at 21.02.

Brendan Hebert of Lake Travis earned a silver medal in the 800. Christian Gilmore of Humble Atascocita won the race in 1:52.56 as Hebert was a step behind at 1:52.79.

Jared Tracy of Lake Travis earned a bronze medal in the shot put. Otito Ogbonnia of Katy Taylor won at 66-1, and Tracy finished at 58-½.

Attendance for Saturday’s competition was 34,306. The attendance Friday was 27,249.



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