Sunray’s Strickland makes state history; Gruver’s Weaver wins gold


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Sunray‘s Ella Strickland broke the UIL Class 2A state record in the pole vault with a 13-feet-0 1/4 inches Friday at Mike A. Myers Stadium. [Chris Schmidt/ UIL athletics]AUSTIN— It was an electrifying afternoon for Sunray’s Ella Strickland Friday during the University Interscholastic League Class 2A state track and field championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Strickland vaulted her way into history setting the new Class 2A state record in the pole vault event with an eye-opening 13-feet-0 1/4 inches. Strickland’s new record also stands alone as the new top mark in Texas Panhandle girls history set by Canyon sophomore Kashlee Dickinson (13-feet) on Thursday during the UIL Class 4A meet.

“This is what I’ve been dreaming for since I was little,” Strickland said. “It’s a real blessing, and a dream come true.”

Strickland had the gold sealed up at 11-feet-6 inches. The junior then cleared 12-feet, and broke the record on her second attempt at 12-feet-7 inches.

With the record safe and secure, Strickland then went for 13-0 1/4, clearing the amazing height on her second attempt to a standing ovation.

“It was a special moment,” Strickland said. “I couldn’t believe it. I’d been wanting to hit 13-feet all year, and what a time to do it.”

Strickland’s father, Matt, wears many hats at Sunray. He’s the athletic director, works in administration, coaches Strickland in the pole vault, but most importantly is “Ella’s dad”.

He admits he was nervous watching his daughter Friday but knew she had what it took to accomplish her goal.

“What a blessing,” Matt said. “She was a nervous wreck all week. I’ve had to calm her down, but she got it under control.”

Competing at the state track meet is a special feat in itself for Strickland. As a sophomore, Strickland tore her knee missing all of basketball last season, and would have missed track if not for COVID-19.

However, filled with determination, Strickland battled to repair her knee and made sure she made it to this day.

“When I was rehabbing it allowed me to work on my strength in my arms,” Strickland said. “I worked on getting my legs stronger and just focusing on how much I could improve.”

Matt echoed his daughters comments.

“This summer, we were going through a struggle,” Strickland said. “She couldn’t even clear 10-feet. She was mentally breaking down just trying to get that energy back into the jump. I took her to a camp in Colorado — Pat Manson runs up a place in Boulder. And it’s a pole vault community and all they do is pole vault. Every Saturday they have a meet. And that community, they just picked her up and encouraged her. I’m gonna say God just put good people in her path because that place in Boulder, when they started to encourage her.”

Strickland will compete in the 100 meter hurdles looking another medal Thursday night.

Gruver’s Dylaney Weaver won the gold medal in the UIL Class 2A 3200 meter run Friday at Mike A. Myers Stadium. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]

Weaver dominates 3200 meter run

Gruver’s Dylaney Weaver overcame a near fatal car wreck in September, and now in May she can call herself a UIL Class 2A state champion.

Weaver suffered a fractured vertebra on Sept. 17 after falling asleep at the wheel on her way to a workout at school. The car drifted off the road, and by the time Weaver awoke it was too late to correct. She hit a field entrance and then flew in the air 40 yards just missing a concrete culvert as her car landed upside down.

Weaver was trapped for nearly 45 minutes before her mother, Ammie Schibler, and the EMS arrived.

But that was then, and Friday Weaver running stronger than ever overcame her injuries while leaving the field behind to break Gruver’s school-record, and claim gold in the 3200 meter run with a time of 11:31.61.

“It’s a true blessing. When you look back to the night of that wreck I never would have guessed this would happen. I was running for that record and I’m so happy.”

Weaver also runs in the 1600 meter run Friday night.

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