AUSTIN – Dethroning the defending UIL 3A State Champion in the Girls High Jump is no easy task for a sophomore two years the younger. Neither is recording a jump half-a-foot higher than the personal record set the previous year as a freshman.

Both are milestones for Glen Rose sophomore Allyson “Ally” Andress to build upon over the next two seasons.

The technical side of the competition on the State’s biggest stage at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin reflects that Andress claimed a second-place finish in the track and field championships held Thursday, May 12. But the numbers show a 5-foot-6-inch tie atop the leaderboard with Abigail Lalley, a senior and now back-to-back 3A State Champion from Merkel High School.

For those wondering, Merkel is almost the exact halfway point between Forth Worth and Odessa along I-20 – sitting approximately 168 miles from the former and 154 miles east of big oil country. According to Wikipedia, Merkel reported a population of 2,592 in 2013.

Although she entered as the wildcard ninth jumper, Andress brought with her the understanding that her previous best of 5-foor-8 was the highest among the other eight qualifiers.

The sophomore cruised through her first four jumps and watched six of her competitors bow out in the process. Before Andress rocked back to start her first attempt at 5-foot-4, she already had a spot atop the state championship podium alongside Lalley and Lauren Purdom of Whitesboro High School.

She needed two attempts at 5-foot-4 and three more at 5-foot-5 to move onto the height that Glen Rose Head Coach Sandy Langford thought was to be the decider.

“We knew that Lally had never gone 5-foot-8 like Ally already has,” Langford said, “so we knew that if we could get passed that 5-foot-6 mark and into five-seven that we would have a chance to take it.

“[…] She beat all of the girls from our region and that is always good, especially coming in as the wildcard. We knew that when she jumped the other day that she had a great shot and I have been watching all of the other regions and jumpers, so we kind of knew that it was going to come down to someone from our region competing for the title.”

All three competitors missed on their first attempt at 5-foot-6, which had not happened on any height previously, but it was Lally who was the first to clear on her second attempt.

Andress, the first jumper throughout the contest due to a random draw, caught the bar just enough on her third attempt to cause it to bounce, but the bar and her state title dreams held on. Purdom’s, unfortunately, did not, which sent Andress and Lally into a mono-a-mono showdown at 5-foot-7.

Andress missed.

Lally missed.

Neither was relativity close to clearing.

Andress caught the bar with the same shoelace as her second jump at 5-foot-6, but this time the bar did not hang on after several bounces.

Lally missed.

Andress missed.

Lally Missed.

The tiebreaker, which is by rule the fewest attempts on the previously cleared height, went to Lally – two attempts to the three of Andress.

“She jumped high enough, but she just didn’t have enough speed to carry all the way through,” said Langford on the second attempt of Andress at 5-foot-7. “That is something we have battled all season, but at least we have a good mark to start with for next year.”

For Andress to ‘jump’ her freshman-year personal-best mark from 5-foot-2 by half a foot to 5-foot-8 in a little of a year, is impressive in itself. While, yes, the sky might be the limit, clearing a cool six-foot at Mike A. Myers wouldn’t be such a bad place to aim for, either.

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Travis M. Smith

(254) 897-2282

@travis5mith