It took less than 12 hours for Tyre’ Ellison to go from tuxedo to track spikes, from prom king to sprint champion.
Ellison arrived at Kezar Stadium on Saturday morning for the San Francisco Section track finals on the heels of his prom coronation, but showed no ill effects from the celebration. The 6-foot-2, 173-pounder won the 400-meter dash (in a personal-best 50.15 seconds) and the 800 (2 minutes, 4.74 seconds), qualified for today’s CIF state trials in Norwalk in the 400 and was named the meet’s male Outstanding Performer.
A fitting finale in The City for a kid who found time to star in three sports, excel in two AP classes, volunteer and have a job while at Burton.
“They say graduation comes so fast you might as well take advantage of every opportunity you get,” Ellison said. “And that’s all I tried to do.”
Ellison spent the past week working out on the Burton track to tighten up his form in the 400, as coach Duane Breaux pointed to a time somewhere below 49 seconds as the goal for today’s race.
He has also found himself becoming reflective on what he describes as a “dream-like” senior year, with graduation suddenly just two weeks away. Ellison starred in football, basketball and track for the Pumas, served as the secretary for the school’s Black Student Union and was honored with a $500 scholarship after becoming one of just six annual recipients of the CIF’s Spirit of Sport Award.
This summer, he will move on to Cal, where the first-team All-Academic Athletic Association wide receiver and defensive back earned preferred walk-on status to the Bears football team.
“The way things have come together this year has been amazing, like ‘Whoa!’” Ellison said. “I never wanted to be a role model or anything. I just wanted to be a positive influence so people could look at me and say ‘If he can do it, so can I.’”
Breaux was Ellison’s coach in all three sports at Burton and said Ellison has become revered by his teammates through both deeds and words.
“Tyre’ is just a really special kid,” Breaux said. “He’s a quiet leader, the rare guy who commands respect from not only his peers and younger kids, but those older than him as well.”
Ellison also has a fierce competitive side. Breaux remembers imploring the Pumas to pick up their rebounding before a basketball game against Washington this winter, telling his team he missed having graduated center Artis Robinson in the middle.
“At the end of the third quarter, Tyre’ must have had 13 rebounds,” Breaux said with a laugh, recalling a 57-52 Burton win. “And he looked over at me and said ‘Do you still miss Artis?’”
Now Ellison is hoping to ride the momentum he’s built up this year to a surprise showing in SoCal.
“I’m planning on going down there and competing,” Ellison said. “There will be some great runners there and I can learn from them. But no way am I going to back down.”