Bo Althoff, the Payson High track and field team’s pole-vaulting coach and the school record holder in the event, is beaming with pride.
His satisfaction is the result of having one of his students, Keith Williams, win the Division III state pole vault championship by clearing 14 feet, 3 inches in the finals held May 11 and 12 at Mesa Community College.
Just over 20 years ago, it was Althoff being crowned a state champion in the grueling event that requires upper body strength, speed, exceptional coordination and a healthy dose of confidence.
While Williams did come up a bit short of the 15 feet Althoff predicts he is capable of vaulting, the state mark was three inches higher than runner-up T.J. Ryan of Sedona.
Also in the pole vault, PHS senior Levi Sopeland cleared 13 feet to finish sixth in a field of 16 qualifiers who competed in the event.
Williams’ win could earn him invites to several post-season competitions including the Meet of Champions.
Among the girl vaulters, Janelle Hauptman cleared 9 feet, 6 inches to tie for seventh place. Jaymi Carlen tied for 15th with a vault of 8 feet, 6 inches.
In the finals of boys high jump, Richard Nielson finished eighth with a leap of 6 feet. By clearing 5 feet 10 inches, Longhorn Morris was 11th.
Michael Scott soared 19 feet, 10 inches in the long jump to take 17th in the long jump.
The Lady Horns
In the finals of the girls 100-meter dash, Morgan Chilson broke the magical 13-second barrier with a time of 12.97.
However, she finished eighth in a star-studded field of qualifiers that included event winner Jasmin Pratt of Estrella Foothills. Pratt was timed in a very fast 12.32.
In the 200-meter finals, Chilson placed sixth in 27.17.
A pair of qualifiers, Lydia Galster and Sarah Cluff, represented the Lady Horns in the 800-meter field. Galster ran a 2:28.82 to finish ninth overall.
Cluff was timed in 2:30.72 and placed 11th.
Galster’s time was just over 2:28.67. She ran May 4 and finished second at the Snowflake Invitational.
In the 4x400 relay finals, Bailey Patterson, Bethany Sprinkle, Galster and Carlen ran 4:13.56 to take ninth.
The foursome of Hauptman, Patterson, Carlen and Chilson placed sixth in the 4x100 varsity preliminaries in 51.73.
Just last week at Snowflake, the team ran 51.20 to set a new Payson High School event record.