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Ellenson takes third in national event

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Marquette junior Wally Ellenson claimed third place in the high jump event at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.

The dual-sport athlete and Olympic hopeful cleared a bar height of 7-feet 3.75-inches to make it into the final four, then ended up with the bronze medal after missing three attempts: one with the bar at 7-feet, 5-inches and two with the bar at 7-feet, 6-inches.

“I was ready. I knew it was a big stage and it would take a big jump,” Ellenson told GoMarquette.com. “Physically, I put all I had in the competition. I just didn’t have the pop I needed at the higher heights, but I found a way to put myself in position for a couple attempts to be a national champion.”

Ellenson entered the event as one of the top contenders for first place. He had cleared a bar height of 7-feet, 5.75-inches during a meet at Wisconsin earlier this year, which was good enough to shatter the previous Marquette record and move him into a three-way tie with competitors Christoff Bryan of Kansas State and Jacorian Duffield of Texas Tech for the highest jump in the country. Seven-feet, 5.75-inches was also the height that Arizona State’s Bryan McBride cleared to win the NCAA high jump title at last year’s outdoor events.

“I always expect to win,” Ellenson said. “That’s just the mindset you need to have to be a great competitor.”

The competition began with 16 participants, all of which easily cleared the opening bar of 6-feet, 10.75-inches. It was not until the bear reached 7-feet, 2.5-inches that a jumper failed to make it over. Ellenson missed his first attempt at that height, but he managed to sail just over the bar on his second pass.

After that, the 11 remaining first-place hopefuls bar faced a bar that was set at 7-feet, 3.75-inches. Ellenson, undaunted by his miss in the earlier round, adequately negotiated the jump, making it over the bar on his first attempt. The majority of the field, however, did not. Seven of the remaining jumpers failed to make it over and the number of people still in contention shrank to four. At this point, Ellenson occupied second place behind Texas Tech’s Duffield.

The bar then rose to 7-feet, 5-inches, and only Duffield cleared it on his first try. After that, Ellenson and the rest of the field could either take their second attempt to try and match it or forgo that last attempt and instead take two attempts to clear a bar set at 7-feet, 6-inches for the win.

D.J. Smith, a jumper from Auburn, chose to take his second attempt at 7-feet, 5-inches and missed it, thus ensuring that Ellenson could do no worse than third. The other two – Ellenson and Texas Tech’s Mark Adkins – decided to go for 7-feet, 6-inches, which would have been good for both first place and a new national record. Ellenson missed both attempts and finished in third place.

Texas Tech’s Adkins and Duffield took first and second place, respectively. Both jumpers cleared a bar height of 7-feet, 6-inches.

Ellenson will now look toward the outdoor track and field season. His next chance at a national championship will come at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., which will be held in mid-June.

“This outdoor season, my goal every meet is to get above my 7-foot, 5.75-inch jump until nationals,” Ellenson said. “Then, my goal is to win.”

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