WESTPORT — The high jump can be a daunting event but not to Staples High indoor track and field athlete Chet Ellis.
The 6-foot-3 senior standout loves the challenge in presents, both inwardly and outwardly.
“There’s something about leaving the ground that high,” he said during practice on Tuesday in the Staples field house. “You look at it and every height above 6-foot looks impossible. You have to get over mentally before you can get over it physically. I like that challenge, the idea of getting over what’s right in front of you. It’s helped me in my life, to get over obstacles that are mental blocks and to stare any adversity in the face and then overcome it.”
Despite having his fair share of injuries over the years, Ellis has found a way to overcome them and has gone 3-for-3 this postseason in the high jump, capturing FCIAC (6-feet-6), CIAC Class LL (6-feet-9) and CIAC State Open (6-feet-9.25) titles in addition to setting the school record.
Now he’s getting ready for his biggest challenges the next two weeks — New England’s and Nationals — and looks forward to being tested.
“I really like competition, more than anything,” said Ellis, who was disappointed he couldn’t jump against league rival Justin Forde of Brien McMahon, who was injured after FCIACs and couldn’t jump in states. “Even more than winning, I want good competition. I’ve enjoyed the wins, although I’d like tougher wins.”
Staples veteran head coach Laddie Lawrence said Ellis is pretty much unmatched when it comes to high jumping.
“He’s got the indoor and outdoor (6-feet-10.25) school records,” he said. “He’s the only high jumper I’ve ever coached who has had a legitimate attempt at 7-feet, just ticked it off. He’s got a lot of spring in his step.”
Lawrence added that Ellis has gotten better and better over the years, even though he’s been bitten by the injury bug at times.
At the State Open, Ellis set the school record, but unfortunately hurt the patellar tendon in his knee and had to stop. He was looking to clear 6-feet-11 on one of his next attempts but erred on the side of caution.
After having a week off last week prior to New England’s, which will be held at the Reggie Lewis Center on Saturday in Boston, Ellis said he’s feeling much better and that might just be bad news for his opponents.
“When I’m at 100 percent I feel no one can stop me,” Ellis said. “The next two weeks my goals are to stay healthy and get some big wins.”
Lawrence said the two meets ahead will be tough for Ellis, with the caliber of jumpers competing, but he has it in him to produce, calling to mind how he fared at last year’s outdoor Nationals where he placed fourth.
“I hate to say it but high jumping is an up-and-down event,” Lawrence said with a laugh.
Joining Ellis at New England’s will be the Staples’ 4×800 relay team that will include Luke Lorenz, Henry Haas, A.J. Zuckerman, Teddy O’Kane, Nick Taubenheim, Morgan Fierro and George Lepska.
Ellis, who plans to do track and field and study at Harvard University, said his experiences at Staples will serve him well, he’s grateful to Lawrence for his guidance and his goals for the next two weeks are pretty simple.
“I’m hoping I stay healthy, and I think I will, and I hope I jump high,” Ellis said.