by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
COLUMBUS — Day one of the OHSAA Division II state Track and Field Championships got off to a good start Friday morning with two Pickaway County athletes competing in the pole vault finals.
Westfall senior Tyler Shipley broke a 33-year-old school record as he cleared 14’ 10” in placing ninth.
Circleville’s Zach Buitendorp cleared 13’ 6” — the height he cleared to set a personal record at last year’s state championships — to place 14th.
David Adams of Indian Valley was state champion clearing 16’ 2”.
“I knew I had it in me,” Shipley said of getting the school record. “All season long the weather hasn’t been what I wanted but you can’t let that bring you down. The main thing is staying mentally sharp. A beautiful day like today, I had moved up a pole and worked on it all week and knew I would get it today.”
The competition started out a little rough with Shipley missing his first two attempts at the opening height of 13 feet.
“I was going so high over 13 that I couldn’t figure out where the bar was on my way down, so I kept hitting it,” he said. “I had already wasted three attempts on that one.”
In talking with his coaches, he decided to skip 13’ 6” and came back in at 14 feet.
“It did work out because I cleared (14 feet) on the first try.”
He cleared 14’ 6” on his first try as well and broke the school record on his third attempt at 14’ 10”.
To get the record at the state meet at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium is something Shipley has been looking forward to for quite a while.
“I have wanted this for so long. My freshman year regional was at Muskingum and I went there to watch and I didn’t want that (just to watch),” he said. “Covid hit that sophomore year. After that we had the regional at a high school (and the state meet) and this year (regional) was also at Chillicothe (High School), so absolutely blessed that it was here.
“The state meet set me up today to PR today one inch higher than the school record.”
The previous school record of 14′ 9″ was set by Jeff Green in 1989.
When Shipley and Buitendorp competed in the state last meet last year, it was held at Pickerington High School North.
The return to Jesse Owens, meant the return of a state championship crowd. And Buitendorp, a junior, is looking forward to earning the chance to be part of it again next year.
“I’m not used to this as a high schooler,” he said. “I’m used to seeing 300 people in the stands, not 3,000. It’s pretty cool, though.”
(Friday’s crowd was closer to the stadium’s capacity of 10,000.)
Buitendorp, who set a new PR of 13’ 8” earlier in the season, sees the competition at the state meet as a motivator to go higher.
“The competition makes me want to jump more. It makes me see the type of vaulter I can become and want to work to,” he said. “It definitely gives me motivation because I’ve got to beat these guys next year if I want to win. It also lets me look at how they get – my big thing is getting upside down and staying tight to the pole. They can show me how they do it, because I can’t do it. I’ll do it one day – maybe next year.”
To see how the pole vault competition played out Friday morning, click here.