Junction's Ella Strickland sets overall UIL State Track Meet record in pole vault (2024)

AUSTIN - The most challenging task for Junction pole vaulter Ella Strickland is topping herself.

She was up to that high bar Friday in what turned into the most remarkable competition of her life on one of the great days of her athletic life.

Strickland broke her own Class 2A state meet record three times with three third-attempt clearances, and the final one at 13-feet, 9 1/4-inches gave her the overall state record. That also matches the 10th-best vault in America by a high school athlete this year.

She followed that up with a runaway victory in the 100 hurdles, beating out second-place Logan Prater of Eldorado, who also had an amazing day. Strickland was third in the 300 hurdles, scoring 26 points by herself, good for fifth in the team standings.

"This may be the best day of my life," Strickland said after her 100 hurdles victory.

As happy as she was about that, the pole vault was the headline grabber.

"Just a feeling: joy," said Strickland, who competed for Sunray last year. "I usually don't make it on the third attempt so it was something new today. But it was fun."

Strickland won the event on her third vault of the competition at 12-0, then began her assault on the record book. That was when she started feeling that this could become a special day.

Junction's Ella Strickland sets overall UIL State Track Meet record in pole vault (1)

"Always the point for me is as soon as I know I win," she said. "Once I won and I had no stipulations it was time for me to go and have fun."

Strickland broke her year-old Class 2A record with a final-attempt clearance at 13-1 that followed two near misses. At 13-6, then again at 13-9 1/4, Strickland wasn't particularly close on her first two tries before nailing her third.

"I went to bigger poles every single time," she said of her third attempts. "Those were the biggest poles I had ever been on. (The previous poles) were too soft, that's why I went up."

Her final clearance came on her 12th vault of the competition and she was done. The meet official who waved the white flag indicating a successful jump handed her the flag as she exited the pit and she gave it a big wave.

"This was so much fun," Strickland said.

Mason's Tristin Keller shared the awards stand with her after finishing third in 11-3.

Junction's Ella Strickland sets overall UIL State Track Meet record in pole vault (2)

Prater has huge day

No one at the state meet was busier than the sophom*ore Logan Prater, and by the end of an exhausting day, she grabbed her share of glory.

She began in encouraging fashion, winning the Class 2A long jump and taking second in the triple jump. After finishing second to Strickland in the 100 hurdles, she went fifth in the 100 and third in the 200.

Those 34 points, along with teammate Jessica Garcia's fourth place in the 800, gave Eldorado 38 points and a third place team finish.

"I'm tired, it was the longest day, the longest track meet I've ever been a part of," Prater said. "I'm proud of myself because making it in five events, it's hard to medal in everything and I almost did.

"I really liked getting out there about to race, I knew everyone around me and everybody was so humbling, all the girls I ran against."

Prater started with the long jump gold with a leap of 18-feet, 1 3/4 inches on her fifth attempt that moved her from second to first. Prater didn't compete in the long jump last season.

"It gives me some endurance," she said. "It makes me happy and gives me some good vibes for the next event. I saw the girl (San Augustine's JaToryia Barnes) getting ahead of me and I really, really, really wanted to win so I pushed and thought about it."

Prater wasn't able to overtake Barnes in the triple jump, but was a wire-to-wire second in 38-7 1/2. Barnes won in 40-1 3/4.

"I didn't make it in triple jump last year so I'm happy to make it and place this year," Prater said.

Junction's Ella Strickland sets overall UIL State Track Meet record in pole vault (3)

Coleman's Roberson leaps to win

Coleman's Devinar Roberson's busy morning and afternoon ended with a gold medal in his best event, the triple jump, after taking fifth in the long jump and tying for fourth in the high jump.

He left no doubt in the triple jump, winning by almost two feet at 47-10 1/4. His first jump of 47-3 would have won easily and four of his attempts were comfortably ahead of second place (45-10 3/4 by Timpson's Terry Bussey).

"I'd say it's my favorite event and my best. It was pretty much what I expected, the coaches told me everything I needed to know.

"I was disappointed in myself in the high jump, but you've got to get through it.

Junction's Ella Strickland sets overall UIL State Track Meet record in pole vault (4)

Mason nabs two silvers

Mason's Lauren Olson and Eliza Cope put their state meet experience to good use, finishing second in the Class 2A discus and 400 respectively. Olson matched her finish from a year ago while Cope moved up a spot from her 2021 bronze.

Seeded fourth coming in, Olson led through the first three rounds of the discus before taking the silver in 128-1.

Flatonia's Ali Janecka took gold with a 132-11 on her fourth throw, while Junction's Brylee Stewart took bronze with a final-attempt 127-0 that moved her up from fourth.

"This was my second time being here so I was really happy about medalling," Olson said. "It wasn't what I wanted, I wanted to finish on the top, but I was super excited I was able to medal and go out with a last hurrah as a senior this year."

Cope was running against defending champion Macklynn Land of Panhandle, who dominated in 54.21, while Cope held off everyone else in 59.17.

"It was slower than last year at state so I'm not too excited about it," said Cope, who ran 58.97 last year in Austin. Second "is what I was going for and expecting."

Cope just missed the medals in the 200, finishing one spot behind Prater in fourth, then had a last-to-fourth anchor carry in the 1,600 relay.

Mason's Keller also made the awards stand with her third in the pole vault. The Punchers' 35 points left them fourth.

Junction's Ella Strickland sets overall UIL State Track Meet record in pole vault (5)

Coahoma's Ott sweeps wheelchair races

Coahoma's Vance Ott made quick work of both the 100 and 400 wheelchair races, winning both easily to earn a pair of gold medals.

"Ifeel good for my school," Ott said. "I'm so blessed to be part of a school that cares so much, and put in the time and the work to come compete. That's what I did today. The 100 and 400 went smoothly. I felt like I could have done better in the 400, I made some mistakes, but it's fine."

Bret Bloomquist can be reached at 915-546-6359; bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com; @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.

Junction's Ella Strickland sets overall UIL State Track Meet record in pole vault (2024)
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