#9 - Erica Ellis Shatters Junior National Record
What do Mary Cain, Zola Golden, Paula Salmon, and Symone Darius all have in common? The quartet all left their High School programs before graduation, to compete unattached, with much success. Two of which even earned their very own Gatorade Athlete of the Year trophy for Track and Field.
So when junior Erica Ellis (Unattached) decided to take that plunge, it wasn't something unheard of. And with coaches like Rick and Jenn Suhr, the coaching-athlete tandem that lead to Jenn's Indoor World Record, and almost the entirety of the Top 5 All-Time Vaulters in State History, you knew she was in good hands. Now with a sole focus on her main event, Ellis could concentrate on just vaulting specific meets, and moving up the bar.
Ellis had been no stranger to success. Coming into 2018, she held every Indoor Class Record from 8th Grade through Sophomore year, as well as the Frosh and Soph Records Outdoors. She was already a threat at the National Level, with a 13-3 clearance to her name. But, with some more focus, the higher bars were about to be in reach.
It took some chasing to achieve, though. After clearing 14-0 at the Suhr's home facility, the search was on to do so in legal competition. Open competitions are hard to come by for Pole Vaulters, unless you know where to look. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have the Suhr's helping your search. After setting a schedule that saw the group bouncing around WNY and beyond, both in and over the Canadian border, the season was ready to kick off. It all started locally, with a warm-up at the Upstate Holiday Classic at RIT, with a 12-0 clearance. It put her in the Top 5 in the State, but everyone knew there was more in the tank.
One week later, Ellis headed to the Akron Pole Vault Convention in Ohio. It would be a trip worth taking. Using her new Altius poles, Ellis had a break through meet, and the bar quickly raised up to 14-1.5. Her first attempt, a miss. The second attempt, another miss. With one attempt left, Ellis pushed through the Pole, and elevated herself to new heights. She cleared the mark, and shattered the Junior Class National Record in the process. Formerly held at 14-0 from 2006, Ellis now has the mark to herself. She jumped up to US #1 in the event, a mark that would remain that way throughout both the Indoor and Outdoor season. She's now NY #2 All-Time and US #6 All-Time in the event. With one more year to go, the sky is the limit.
Ellis would go on to clear 13-7.5 with ease more than a few times in the following weeks. Once over, she would move the bar up to the larger heights, attempting the 14-5.5 National Record clearance. It wouldn't come, but she would remain the top Pole Vaulter in the country. However, injury would strike, common for Pole Vaulters at the level, also still growing. It would take her out of the Spring Season, but there wasn't to be any alarm. She is back healthy now, and ready to vault, returning to the event just a few weeks back. With training underway, who know's what we'll see next year. As we said before, the sky is the limit.