Arlington Bowie high jumper Natron Gipson clears 7-2, wins AAU Junior Olympic Games

Arlington Bowie high jumper Natron Gipson was so close to breaking the seven-foot barrier during the school season, hitting 6-11 on numerous occasions. He hit 6-10 at UIL State track meet, good enough for silver in Class 5A.

All he needed was a few more months; the summer schedule has been a break-through for the senior-to-be.

On Wednesday, Gipson cleared 7-2, winning the 17-18 division in a loaded field at the AAU Junior Olympic Games, held at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich. Steven Barze from Ponchatoula, La. also hit 7-2, but Gipson won on attempts. The nation's top ranked jumper heading into the event, Las Vegas' Randall Cunningham II (the son of former Eagles QB Randall Cunningham), finished third with a jump of 7-0. McKinney Boyd's Cornelius McCastle finished fifth with a jump of 6-8.

It was the second time in little over a month that Gipson hit the 7-2 mark. He qualified for nationals in late June with a personal-best 7-2 jump in Burleson, not long after hitting the seven-foot mark in early June.

Gipson's jump was just a 1 1/2 inches short of the AAU record, set by Birmingham, Ala.'s James Harris in 2010. Harris, now at Florida State, won the 2013 ACC outdoor 400 meter title.

If Gipson's jumps keep progressing, he's a good bet for not only a state title (the 2013 champion, Copperas Cove's Cory Scott hit 7-0), but could challenge one of the state's longest held track-and-field records: a 7-4 3/4 jump by Refugio's James Lott in 1983. The national high school record is also held by a Texan: Brenham's two-time UIL 4A champ Andra Manson hit 7-7 in the summer after his high school graduation, winning the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston, Jamaica.

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