Ellingson to high jump for the fourth time at Drake
Washington’s Sammy Ellingson is 4-for-4.
In four years of high school track, she has qualified for the Drake Relays in the high jump four times.
“Four years in a row, it’s almost unheard of,” Washington head girls’ track and field coach Stefanie Tschantz said. “It’s a great thing for her. She’s worked hard, and she deserves it.”
Ever since Ellingson, the daughter of Shawn and Stephanie Ellingson, qualified for the Drake Relays as a freshman, it became something she wanted to do every year.
“I really wanted to get back there every year,” she said. “It was a nice little personal goal for myself, so I’m very excited.”
As a freshman, Ellingson cleared the opening height of 5 feet at the Drake Relays and tied for 25th place. Her sophomore year, she cleared 5 feet, 3 inches and tied for 11th place. But last season Ellingson failed to clear the opening height of 5 feet, 1.25 inches, which was a great disappointment to her.
“Just the fact that I get to go back and redeem myself this year is a great feeling,” she said.
But Ellingson is jumping as well as she ever has in her career this spring. She cleared 5 feet, 4 inches at a meet in Mt. Pleasant on April 16, something she hadn’t done since her freshman season.
“I’m jumping a lot more consistently than I ever have before,” Ellingson said. “I hadn’t jumped 5-4 since my freshman year, so to be able to jump that again is really exciting. Not only that, but each meet I’m getting higher and higher and not having a little down spell or a time when it’s not really working out. Just being able to get higher and higher every time I go and compete is a really good feeling.”
Ellingson has a goal of jumping even higher than her career-best of 5 feet, 4 inches and breaking the school record of 5 feet, 5 inches. But she’s not putting that kind of pressure on herself when she jumps at Drake tomorrow morning at 9:45 a.m.
“I want to clear the opening height, and then I just want to jump consistently and feel comfortable being there,” Ellingson said. “Because being at Drake, for me, isn’t about placing high and isn’t about trying to get people to look at me to go to college or anything. It’s about the experience. So I just want to stay in the competition as long as possible.”
Ellingson enjoys the social aspect of the Drake Relays just as much as the competition.
“With high jump, it’s an individual event, so when we’re all down there with all of our bags together, we all talk and we all get along,” she said. “So we chitchat and then we jump and then we go and talk again and then we jump some more. So it’s kind of just a big social even down there with all of us girls.”
And after being the only Demon to qualify for the Drake Relays last year, Ellingson will be joined by five other girls this season. Washington’s 4x100 relay team of Macy Marek, Natalee Enfield, Amber Salow and Dema Giardino also qualified for Drake this year. Grace Redlinger will also travel to Drake as the alternate in the 4x100.
“It’s exciting to go with a group since I didn’t get to go with a group last year,” Ellingson said. “This year will be fun.”
None of the other girls who will be going have ever competed in the Drake Relays before, although Marek, Enfield and Giardino competed at Drake Stadium at the state track meet last spring. Washington’s 4x100 relay is seeded 72nd out of 80 teams, so it will be a chance for the Demons to get some more experience on the blue oval.
“They’re going there to have fun and hopefully get clean handoffs,” Tschantz said. “It will be a nice eye-opening experience to see what Drake is really about.”
While Tschantz hopes that her runners can get some experience and lose some of the nerves of running at Drake Stadium before next month’s state meet, Ellingson said that those nerves never really go away.
“I expect to be nervous [on Friday],” she said. “I mean, I’m nervous before every track meet, and I’ve had over 50 of those. I’ll always have the nerves, but I’m hoping to overcome them a lot easier this year than in the past.”
After all, it’s her fourth time jumping at the Drake Relays.