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Alpena’s Bullis to compete at national meet

News File Photo Vaulting coach Ron Gebauer, right, gives Alpena's Gabe Bullis a boost during Alpena's vault and throws clinic last June. Bullis, who set a new school pole vault record for the Wildcats this season will compete this weekend at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in North Carolina.

Entering his sophomore season, Gabe Bullis just wanted to do well.

The Alpena High pole vaulting standout did a lot more than that and emerged as one of Michigan’s best up-and-coming vaulters.

Now Bullis will have a chance to showcase himself on a national level. He’ll compete in the Emerging Elite Division at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor which start today and run through Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina.

After a record-breaking year, Bullis has been working hard on his form and hopes to distinguish himself against some of the nation’s best vaulters.

“It just sets another goal for me. If I don’t qualify for the Elite Division this year, my goal is to qualify again next year,” Bullis said.

After a solid freshman season, Bullis came into his sophomore season with his sights on Alpena’s pole vaulting record and qualifying for the state finals.

It didn’t take him long to get the ball rolling on his goals.

He came into the season with a personal best of 13 feet on the vault and bettered it during Alpena’s first meet of the year when he vaulted 13 feet, 10 inches. At Alpena’s next meet, Bullis vaulted 13 feet, 10 and a half inches. He claimed the school’s pole vault record for himself during Alpena’s third meet, vaulting 14 feet, six and a half inches in Bay City.

“It feels really good knowing the records have stayed (the same) for so long. I’m hoping they stay that way,” Bullis said. “Being able to hold a record where people can see it, it feels pretty good.”

Bullis made good on his other goal in late May, jumping 14 feet to win the event at Alpena’s regional. Competing against the state’s best, Bullis rose to the occasion again, vaulting 15 feet. His new height set a new personal best, bettered his school record and earned him third place in the event, good for an all-state finish. It also earned him a spot at nationals in North Carolina.

Not bad for a versatile athlete who originally wasn’t interested in vaulting.

“I was actually forced into pole vault against my will,” Bullis said with a laugh. “I wanted to do shot put, but coach (Bob) Bennett asked me to try it for the day. It turns out I’m pretty good at it.”

With the opportunity to compete on a bigger stage, Bullis isn’t selling himself short. A height of 15 feet, six inches would give him another personal best and a height of 16 inches would be enough to qualify him for the Elite Division.

If he’s able to qualify again during his junior and senior seasons, Bullis could have a shot at the national high school record of 18 feet, 4 3/4 inches, which was set in 2016.

Bullis is currently ranked 12th among sophomores in the pole vault on Athletic.net and the top ranked height is 16 feet, six inches.

A standout performance could also push Bullis closer to one of his biggest goals for the next two seasons: landing a college scholarship for pole vaulting.

“It really is special being one of the only sophomores to qualify. It’s not something many people get to do,” Bullis said. “

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