March 14, 2015
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Marquette University junior Wally Ellenson took third place in the high jump at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship held inside the Randal Tyson Track Center, March 13-14.
Ellenson entered the event as one of the favorites, sharing with two others the nation's highest mark of 7 feet, 5.75 inches. Today, he was able to clear 7 feet, 3.75 inches before missing one attempt at 7 feet, 5 inches, and two more at what would have been a career-best height of 7 feet, 6 inches.
"I was ready. I knew it was a big stage and it would take a big jump," Ellenson said. "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 acouple attempts to be a national champion."
Texas Tech's Mark Adkins and Jacorian Duffield both cleared 7 feet, 6 inches to finish in first and second place, respectively.
"We came here feeling (Wally) could win and he was definitely in it at the end," head coach Bert Rogers said. "The two Texas Tech guys just got hot. Wally really competed well and leaves here hungry for outdoors."
The competition opened with a height of 6 feet, 10.75 inches and all 16 competitors made it through with ease. It wasn't until the bar reached 7 feet, 2.5 inches that field weakened.
Ellenson even showed a bit of over-excitement, or perhaps a few jitters on the big stage, after failing to clear his first attempt. However, once shedding his compression pants and regaining his focus, he cleared the bar with ease on his second attempt. From there, he needed just one try to clear 7-3.75 and with it, the field weakened from 11 competitors to just four.
At that juncture, the Rice Lake, Wisconsin native sat in second place behind Duffield, who had one fewer attempt to his credit.
The height grew to 7 feet, 5 inches and only Duffield was able to make it over successfully on the first try, while Ellenson and two others were left deciding what to do next. Their options were to take both attempts to try and match it or to go for the win by raising the bar to 7 feet, 6 inches.
With the exception of one Auburn jumper, who opted to take his second attempt and missed, the other two collectively decided to pass their final two attempts and go for the win at the new height.
Ellenson, who was runner-up at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championship with a jump of 7-4.75, missed his final two passes at what would have been a career-best mark and took third behind the Texas Tech duo.
An impressive accomplishment nonetheless for Ellenson, who split time between track & field and men's basketball this season. Looking ahead, his focus will now shift solely to the outdoor season as his goal of a national championship remains intact with the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship in Eugene, Oregon looming in mid-June.