Not only is Branson Ellis the state champion in the pole vault for the second straight year, but he’s also the Texas state record-holder.

Ellis, the Tyler Robert E. Lee senior, won the gold in the Class 6A event with a record leap of 18 feet, 3¼ inches on a beautiful sunny day at the UIL Track & Field Championships in Austin.

Ellis, in front of a huge crowd at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus, easily cleared the bar for the record-setter.

As a sophomore, Ellis won silver with a distance of 16-0 and he won gold as a junior with a clearing of 16-3.

As a senior, he went way beyond his personal record of 17-4, set at the regional track meet in Waco two weeks ago. His win was worth 10 points for the Red Raiders.

Logan Fraley, a senior from San Antonio Brandeis, placed runner-up at 16-9, followed by Grant Levesque, a junior from El Paso Coronado, at 16-6.

Ellis passed on the first four marks before attempting and clearing 16-6. He then passed on 16-9 before clearing 17-0, 17-8 and 18-½. He missed the first two attempts at 18-3¼ before leaping high over the bar. He eyed a national mark (18-4¾ set by Chris Nilsen of Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo., in 2016), but missed on three attempts of 18-8¼.

The previous state mark was by Eric Eshbach of Orangefield with 18-2¼ in 1999.

Ellis also set the 6A record, which was 17-6½ set in 2015 by Paulo Benavides of El Paso Franklin.

Ellis has signed with Stephen F. Austin State University.

John Tyler senior Ke’Tavion Humber placed eighth in the 110-meter hurdles with a clocking of 15.02 seconds. Humber, who also ran on two relays, has signed with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The four-time regional qualifier was appearing at state for the first time. Tre’Bien Gilbert, of Converse Judson, won the race at 13.54, followed by Kenney Broadnax of Cibolo Steele (13.81) and Kirk Collins of League City Clear Springs (13.84).

John Tyler’s 4x100 relay placed seventh with a time of 40.37 seconds. Running for the Lions were sophomore Kitan Crawford, Humber, senior Michael Givens-Washington and junior Caleb McMiller.

Katy Seven Lakes won the race in a clocking of 39.80 with The Woodlands (39.98) second and Cedar Hill (40.08) third.

The Lions’ 4x200 relay finished sixth in a time of one minute and 24.43 seconds. It was a school record, but they were disqualified for a lane violation. Running on the team were Givens-Washington, freshman Joshua Hudson, Crawford and Humber.

The 800 relay was blazing as both The Woodlands and Katy Seven Lakes broke the national and state record, while third place Converse Judson broke the 6A mark. However, The Woodlands gets all three marks.

The Woodlands won the relay with a national record of 1:23.25. The team consists of seniors Ethan Bonner, Jake Lanier, DeAngelo Alexander and Kesean Carter.

The previous national and state marks were set by Port Arthur Memorial last year. The record was 1:23.52.

The previous 6A record was by The Woodlands of 1:23.81.

Katy Seven Lakes was second at 1:23.42, followed by Converse Judson at 1:23.58. 


Will Point senior Shelbi Walser medaled by taking silver in the girls shot put wheelchair. She was runner-up with a distance of 17-2¾. Richardson Pearce’s Denise Rodriguez had the same distance, but she won the gold by achieving the mark first.

Walser also placed fourth in the 100-meter dash wheelchair with a 26.62. Godley’s Merrit McKittrick captured first at 20.77.


The Woodlands won the Class 6A boys title with 68 points, followed by Converse Judson (59), Klein Collins (38) and Katy Seven Lakes (38). With the 10 points from Ellis, Tyler Lee placed in a tie for 16th.

In the girls race, DeSoto won the 6A championship with 69 points, followed by Flower Mound Marcus (42) and Duncanville (40).


Fort Bend Marshall won the boys title with Mansfield Lake Ridge taking the girls.


Dallas Carter won the girls crown with 60 points, followed by Fredericksburg (44) and Atlanta (37).

Atlanta won the 4x200 relay in a time of 1:30.16 with the squad of Chelsea Simmons, Keyona Easter, Alyssa Simmons and Shevonia Smith.

The Lady Rabbits were second in the 4x100 relay with a time of 47.07.

Tatum junior Jayla Hooper was second in the discus (136-3).

Liberty-Eylau won the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:55.87.

Dallas Carter also won the boys title with 58 points, followed by Stafford (52), Carthage (28), Sealy (26) and Kilgore (26).

Earning silver medals from the area were Kaufman’s Christian Rivera (1600-meter run, 4:23.69), Liberty-Eylau’s Decoria Phillips (triple jump, 46-11), Carthage’s Ashton Hicks (400-meters, 46.82) and Carthage’s Tarik Rascoe (800-meters, 1:55.31).

Kilgore was second in the 4x100 relay with a time of 41.43. The relay consisted of Anthony Smith, Jonathan Shepherd, Gregory Isaac and Cameron Jackson. Carthage was third at 41.44 with Kelvontay Dixon, Hicks, Keaontay Ingram and Roshabrius Garrett.

Tatum was runner-up in the 4x400 relay (3:18.18). Team members were Dakarai Bush, Alex Medford, Rylee Metcalf and Cedric White.

Kilgore’s Shepherd took the bronze in the 200-meter dash (21.33), while Atlanta’s Josh Edwards was third in the 110-meter hurdles (14.26).

It was the 17th time in 100-plus history of the UIL that both the boys and girls champions were from the same school.


Yoakum captured the boys championship with Leonard claiming the girls.


Milano won the 2A boys title with 74 points with Valley View (56) and San Augustine (36) second and third, respectively.

Kerens’s Cornell Sayles won the 100-meter dash (10.79).

The Alto team of Marvin Roberts, Jay Pope, Skylar Adkins and Clayton Terry finished second in the 4x200 relay (1:30.34).

Union Grove’s captured bronze in the triple jump (45-0).

In the girls race, Refugio won with 62 points, edging Vega (60). Shiner was third with 40 points.

Cayuga’s Stormi Lane captured two medals. She won a silver in the 100-meter dash (12.39). The junior added bronze in the 200-meter dash (25.47).

Alto’s Shatamrah Blakemore, a senior, took silver in the 400-meter dash (57.65).

Junior Nakia Dunn of Kerens was runner-up in the triple jump (38-7).


Turkey Valley won the boys championship with 72 points, followed by Medina (34), Oakwood (32), Blue (32) and Happy (32).

Key’Undre Davis, an Oakwood sophomore, won the triple jump (44-8¼).

Oakwood won the 4x200 with a time of 1:31.94. Team members were Jerimiah Sargent, Ethan Edgemon, Ja’Koyious Jones and Cooper Edgemon.

Blum won the girls title with 49 points, followed by Rocksprings (46) and Happy (44).

Miller Grove’s Cassidy Seaney took silver in the 800-meter run (2:21.63). Teammate Jorja Bessonett was runner-up in the 1600-meter run (5:32.96).





Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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