Garrison Hughes smiles after signing his national letter of intent to join the University of Nebraska track and field program. (Photo courtesy: Shannon Hughes)

SIDNEY – Garrison Hughes continues to soar to new heights.

The two-time defending Class A pole vault champion, Hughes officially signed his letter of intent with the University of Nebraska on Friday morning. The Class A record-holder will join the Cornhusker track and field program next fall.

“He’s pretty excited,” Hughes’ mother, Shannon, told MTN Sports this week. “I think it was always Nebraska from the beginning. Going there and seeing the facilities was pretty eye-opening. The facilities are incredible, but the help they have for their student-athletes is what I think he was really impressed with. I really think it will be a good fit for him.”

Hughes burst on to the Montana track and field scene as a sophomore in the 2015-2016 season. He owned the top Class A seed entering the state track and field meet in Bozeman, vaulting 15 feet. He matched the height to win his first state title, topping the runner-up vaulter by a foot.

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Last spring, Hughes became only the second vaulter in Montana history to clear 16 feet, joining former Helena High standout and current University of Washington vaulter Chase Smith. Smith owns Montana’s all-class record of 16 feet, 4 inches. Hughes dominated the state meet’s pole vault competition again, clearing 16 feet and breaking former Whitefish vaulter Cort Rogers’ class record of 15 feet, 6 inches. He took three attempts at 16 feet, 5 inches, nearly clearing his final attempt, aiming to break Smith’s record.

Hughes told MTN Sports last spring he has goals of 16-5, maybe even 17 feet, before he leaves the Sidney program. Last season he helped the Eagles to their first team championship in 58 years, running the opening leg of Sidney’s runner-up 1,600-meter relay team. His younger brother, Carter, won the shot put and discus competitions.

Expectations are sky-high for Hughes as he enters the final season of his prep career. He and his teammates are currently eying a state football championship as Sidney gets set to host Columbia Falls in the Class A semifinals on Saturday afternoon. The program hasn’t won a football title since 1993.

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