Brownwood High School senior Paul David Quillin earned a fifth-place finish in the pole vault at the National AAU Track & Field competition in Ypsilanti, Michigan last weekend.

Quillin cleared a 13’6” bar to take fifth in a competition that featured elite high school athletes from across the nation. He originally qualified for the event by winning gold at an AAU national meet in Reno, Nevada earlier this summer.

Because of scheduling conflicts, Quillin was unable to participate in regional AAU meets before the Reno event. His family loaded their car with poles and drove to Nevada in order for him to participate in the national meet. “I was already up in Colorado at a pole-vaulting camp with a guy named Pat Manson, who … holds the record for most consecutive years over 18 feet,” Qullin said. “I went to that, and my parents vacationed their way to Reno.”

Quillin flew from Denver to Reno and won first place at the competition the very next day. Though he was unable to break the Reno meet record of 14 feet after three attempts, Quillin said 14 feet is his personal best vault and that his goal is to vault at 16’6” by the end of his senior year.

In Ypsilanti, Quillin said he enjoyed meeting elite pole vaulters from all backgrounds. “It was just an amazing thing to be part of a national meet,” he said. “It was cool to see everybody from all around the country come in and do what they love, and compete in the sport they’re best at. I know there were a couple of pole vaulters from Florida, there was one other from Texas and the guy who won it was from Illinois.”

The meet took place on the Eastern Michigan University campus. Quillin said he hopes to vault on a college campus again soon — he aims to continue his track career at the next level.

But first, his senior year. Quillin was one spot away from advancing to the state competition at last year’s regional finals, and this year he wants to finish the job and end high school on a high note. He said he may be interested in following his former head coach Don Hood to LeTourneau University, where Hood founded the school’s track and field program earlier this year.

“I for sure want to vault in college,” Quillin said.

In addition to pole vault, Quillin also runs the 300-meter hurdles, participates in theater and played football through his junior year at Brownwood High. The track and field season will begin again in the spring.