Bryan 'surprised' at clearing national junior record
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Christoff Bryan on Saturday set a personal best and new national junior record in the men's high jump when he won the event at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The mark puts the Kansas State University (KSU) freshman into a three-way tie as the number-one high jumper among college athletes in the United States, along with Jacorian Duffield of Texas Tech and Wally Ellenson of Marquette. The height was also the best jump by a KSU athlete since Erik Kynard cleared 2.33m in 2013.
Bryan was best in a quality field that included Jacorian Duffield, the top-ranked jumper going into the meet. Duffield was fourth.
Having cleared 2.25m, a personal best to win at the KSU Triangular in January, Bryan had set 2.28m as a new target because it exceeded Germaine Mason's 2002 outdoor junior mark of 2.27m.
NOT IN BEST FORM
"I was really aiming to get it at my next meet, which was the one today (Saturday). I was supposed to jump two weeks ago in New Mexico, but I pulled out because my knee wasn't better from the first meet," said Bryan, who turns 19 in April.
"I'm really proud to have come out here on a bad knee and get a new personal best.
"Honestly, I am still not sure how I cleared it because I wasn't having the best of competitions. My attempts at the lower heights were slouchy and I had to bear the pain in my knee. But upon clearing 2.21m on my last attempt, I said to myself that I can't lose to these guys. One of them was the national leader with 2.28m. So, on my last attempt at 2.25m, my whole attitude changed, and I was more aggressive."
Bryan said it was like he went into a zone before he took on the hitherto unsurpassed height.
"I felt really light, but not as powerful. I know that sounds weird, but as I said, I am still kind of surprised by the performance."
With the 2015 Big 12 Indoor Championships coming up on February 27-28 in Ames, Iowa, Bryan said his performance is a great fillip.
"I was always confident going into it and I believed I could jump 2.28m this season, that was the goal before I even landed in Kansas. I've gotten a lot stronger and faster, so the sky's the limit for me," he said.