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Riding high: Arlington eighth-grader sets new national high jump record
Arlington eighth-grader Max Bryson must have a spring in his step.
The Post Middle School track athlete broke a 23-year-old high jump record not long after he took up the sport. But this spring, in the middle school season, Bryson took his success to new heights and what appears to be a new national record.
At the season finals meet in Mount Vernon, Bryson cleared a height of 6-5 1/4.
Let's put that number in context. Bryson, in his own words, is "almost six feet tall."
The previous Post high jump record, set in 1985, was a height of 5-4. When Bryson broke it last year, he bested it by four inches. And when he goes on to compete at Arlington as a freshman next year, a jump of the same height will break the high school record, which currently stands at 6-3.
"It's pretty amazing," said Post track coach Melinda Skyles. "When I saw him jumping at prelims, I looked down on the field and the judges were setting the bar above their heads."
Bryson jumped a best height of 6-2 that day.
"Then at the finals," Skyles continued, "there were more people moving toward the high jump pit because they knew something was going on."
When the rest of the competitors in the event went out at about 5-1, Bryson said, he asked the judges to set the bar at 5-10.
"I kind of started out slow," Bryson explained of his outstanding season. "The first meet, I only jumped 5-6, but I increased two inches at a time."
Athletic.net, a website that allows middle school and high school coaches to submit track and cross country times, cross-lists results to show state and national records. The best mark they show by a middle school high jumper in the country is listed at 6-1, a mark Bryson has bested by four inches. However, Bryson's school doesn't appear to report results, which is why the eighth-grader is not currently at the top of the rankings.
The Arlington school district is in the process of documenting and reporting Bryson's incredible jump.
With an ability to jump 6-5, though, Bryson seems to have the natural aptitude for athletics, and he plays basketball and football as well. He says his favorite sport depends upon the season.
By all accounts, Bryson is a good-natured person, who has used his success to try to help his fellow athletes.
"Max has been very helpful, giving tips and so on," said Skyles of Bryson's conduct outside of competition. "He's been like a student coach."