FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Brady Palen tied Wichita State’s 38-year old high jump school record with his win Friday at the Arkansas Qualifier.
“I had a good day, and I knew I could always jump that high because I’ve seen it on video,” Palen said. “I just needed things to come together, and they came together magnificently today. I’m just really proud of myself and all my teammates out here today.”
The sophomore from Beloit, Kan. cleared three-consecutive indoor personal bests, ending with a 2.22m/7’3.25” clearance which tied the school record and ties for first in the American Athletic Conference and fifth in the NCAA.
“This is really exciting for me, for Brady, for our program and for the high jumpers on our team because he’s going to be headed to the national meet,” head coach Steve Rainbolt said.
With the top 16 athletes in each event qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, Palen is in a solid position to make the cut and would be the first male high jumper in the Rainbolt era to qualify for the NCAA Championships, indoor or outdoor.
“This is a wonderful young guy – an absolutely special young guy – so this was really fun and sets us up nicely for next week in a really tough high jump contest with the young man from South Florida, and it’s so exciting for him to be heading to Albuquerque,” Rainbolt said.
Palen had consistently been clearing around 2.10m throughout the indoor season but was getting frustrated with not performing to the potential his jumps had shown.
“It’s been a long indoor season jumping a 2.10 bar every week, and I was really getting frustrated, so it felt amazing [to PR multiple times],” Palen said. “I’m super excited for conference next week. I know I can rival with my competition that beat me last year, both indoor and outdoor, and I know I can make that next bar.”
Destiny Masters made it a Shocker high jump sweep, clearing a season-best 1.80m/5’10.75” to win the event and move up to 35th in the NCAA Friday at the Arkansas Qualifier.
Masters’ clearance was just two centimeters off her personal best and ranks fourth in the American Athletic Conference just a week out from the indoor conference championships.
Mattelyn Swartz cleared 1.70m/5’7” for the fifth time this season (1.71m last week) to finish sixth and currently ranks 11th in the conference.
Ezinne Okoro recorded the highest Shocker finish in the triple jump with a leap of 11.81m/38’9”, placing fifth.
In the 60-meter hurdles, Joseph Holthusen missed the final by one spot, running 8.02 to place ninth.
The Shockers travel to Birmingham, Ala. February 24 and 25 for the AAC Indoor Championships.