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Basic high jumper Harris crosses 7-foot barrier heading into region meet

Frank Harris smiled, prayed and then took a victory lap around the Basic High football field just eight days ago.

The 6-foot-3-inch standout was celebrating a feat that most high school jumpers only dream about.

He had just cleared the 7-foot barrier in the high jump.

“I went home to my dad and was like, ‘Dad, I’m jumping over LeBron (James) by like 4 inches,’” said Harris, who sailed over 7-0¼ on his final attempt in the three-team home meet.

The junior, whose mark is tied for fifth in the nation this season, according to Athletic.net, will look to improve on that accomplishment Saturday in the Division I Sunrise Region meet at Del Sol.

The Sunrise and Sunset Region meets begin at 8 a.m. with track preliminaries and finals in some field events, including the boys high jump. The second day of both region meets is May 14 at Del Sol.

“People I don’t even know come up to me and are like, ‘Frank, how you doing?’” Harris said. “I’ve always gotten letters, but colleges are coming more now. Like three in a day. That was surprising. A lot has changed in the last two weeks.”

Harris, the defending state high jump champion, will be competing in his first meet since setting a personal record. His previous best was 6-11, a mark he cleared April 5 in a dual meet with Green Valley.

“What’s gotten me better is my work ethic and my passion for high jumping,” Harris said. “I feel like whenever I jump, I want to be the best at what I do. And I just see myself as the best athlete out there.”

He very well might be.

The second-highest jump in Nevada this season belongs to Galena’s Quintin Mills, whose best mark is 6-7. Coronado’s Garrett Furlong and Silverado’s Elijah Toussaint are tied for second in Southern Nevada at 6-6.

In three years on varsity, Harris has improved his top jump every season by at least 4 inches.

As a freshman, he cleared 6-4. Then, as a sophomore, he won state with an effort of 6-8.

Basic coach Duane Graham doesn’t see that pattern coming to an end. He called Harris “the best athlete” he’s seen in eight years with the program.

“A lot of kids want to go home and play video games. That’s not Frank,” Graham said. “If there’s basketball, he wants to be playing basketball. If there’s football, he wants to be playing football. If there’s track, he wants to be running track.”

Graham said the big stage this weekend probably will benefit Harris.

“He’s a very confident kid. He’s one who does better with pressure,” Graham said. “He likes to feel that energy and excitement. And that helps him perform better. He wants to be on the big stage. He likes going in front of big crowds. He likes it when people watch him, and he likes it when he’s the best.”

Harris, who also plays football and basketball for the Wolves, is receiving interest from Brigham Young, Liberty, Montana, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, Stanford, Michigan and Yale.

“If he stays healthy, keeps his grades up and keeps working, I think he’s going to get free schooling wherever he wants to go,” Graham said. “He’s a great kid. We love having him. He helps a lot of our kids. He’s really inspiring. He makes a lot of our kids want to be better. Everyone wants to be like Frank around here. It’s fun.”

Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at aferguson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson

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