WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – At the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, Brady Palen reached heights never before seen by a Shocker.
With a remarkable leap of 7 feet and 1.25 inches in the men’s high jump competition, Palen became Wichita State University’s first-ever Indoor All-American in the event.
“It was awesome. I mean, we only scored, I think, a quarter of a point, but there were a lot of division one teams that went there and didn’t score a point and a lot of teams that didn’t even represent at the track meet. So I’m excited for Wichita State track and field,” Palen said about his seventh-place finish.
The jumper was WSU’s only athlete to qualify for the meet. He was one of just four non-power five high jumpers competing. He finished in a tie for seventh place, putting points on the board for the Shockers.
“This is the first indoor competition I’ve ever been to. And walking around, I recognized a lot of athletes that I see on social media and everywhere else. And it was surreal to know that I belong at that track meet just as much as they do,” said Palen.
“I was nervous for him,” explained WSU Head Coach Steve Rainbolt. “I know that it is not easy to go to that meet. That’s a big stage. This is a tough situation. And he handled it spectacularly.”
Coach Rainbolt said Palen’s warmup wasn’t his best, and his opening height was 6 feet 10 inches which was four inches higher than where Palen usually comes in.
“That’s a high bar to open up at. And first of all, he didn’t make a single bar in warmup. Didn’t seem to rattle him a bit. Bounced over it on his first attempt. I was super proud of him,” explained Rainbolt.
Earlier this indoor season, Palen leaped 7 feet 3.25 inches to set WSU’s indoor record. Coach Rainbolt says Palen is inspiring his teammates to set their goals high.
“I think between the high jumpers and the horizontal jumpers, and the pole vaulters and multi-event athletes who do similar things, I think he definitely is an inspiration to those athletes,” said Coach Rainbolt.
Now, Palen has set his eyes on a new height: He looks to top WSU’s record book in the outdoor season.
“Once we get rolling into outdoor, I look forward to taking some jumps at the school record at the school record, 7 feet 4 inches”,” said Palen. “Typically, you jump higher outdoors, so I’m looking forward to it.”
“Certainly now, after the last three meets that he had in the indoor season, I’m envisioning that he’s going to jump 7 feet 4 inches at some point. And I wouldn’t put it past him to jump higher,” said Coach Rainbolt.
Palen is expected to open up his outdoor season at Cessna Stadium during the Shocker Spring Invitation on March 24 and 25.