When Tim St. Lawrence hosted a high school pole vault clinic at the Armory Track and Field Center in Manhattan on November 29, he had no idea what he and his colleagues were about to set in motion.
The free clinic drew 187 enthusiastic student-athletes, and it clearly made an impression on those in charge of the prestigious Millrose Games, as they have decided to make history in the 2013 event.
At the 106th Millrose Games on Feb. 16, there will be a high school boys pole vault event for the first time ever. According to St. Lawrence, up until the clinic, there weren’t any plans to add such an event.
“It really hadn’t been pushed at all,” said St. Lawrence, co-founder of the Hudson Valley Flying Circus pole vault club in Warwick, N.Y. “I think Millrose saw the need or the thirst for pole vault, and I think (the clinic) was kind of a stimulus.”
St. Lawrence’s club is aptly named, as he compares pole vaulting to “getting shot out of a cannon in the circus.” The Flying Circus is home to 90 of the top young pole-vaulters in the tri-state area and Pennsylvania. St. Lawrence is elated that high school pole-vaulters, whom he feels are the best athletes on any track team, will get a chance to compete on such a grand stage.
“Having high school pole vault now creates some big dreams for kids in New York City,” he said. “Millrose has a vision; they’re really on the cutting edge of moving high school events up into the limelight. We’re thankful for them initiating that.”
Three members of the Flying Circus are favorites for the first Millrose high school pole vault crown. Senior Justin Farrenkopf of Ellenville Central HS in Ulster County is the top high school pole-vaulter in the state, according to St. Lawrence. His season best jump is 15-feet, 7-inches, and he’ll be the top seed at the Millrose Games.
Junior Todd Uckermark of Warwick Valley HS in Orange County won last weekend’s Hispanic Games at the Armory with a 15-foot, 4-inch vault. Stefan Buechele, a senior at Arlington HS in Dutchess County, won the state indoor and outdoor championships last year and has a personal best of 15-feet, 2-inches.
Those three will vie for the championship in the second year the Millrose Games are being held at the Armory after previously being held at Madison Square Garden. The road for many young track and field hopefuls begins Wednesday at the Millrose Trials, set for 4 p.m. at the Armory.
St. Lawrence loves the intense atmosphere the tight 4,000-seat venue produces.
“It creates a little mystique,” he said. “The people right on top of the track, it’s pretty electric. The Armory is a place of hope and dreams, and kids gravitate to the Armory for that very purpose.”
BACK IN THE RUNNING
A year after the CHSAA pulled the boys 4×800 from the Millrose Games following a scheduling controversy, the league’s top event will return to the Games next month.
Because of an oversight by the Armory, the CHSAA was unable to book its intersectional championships on its regularly held date — the Saturday before winter break — last year. The Big East championships were scheduled for that day, and as payback, the CHSAA pulled the boys 4×800 and ran it at the U.S. Open at the Garden that weekend.
This year’s CHSAA intersectional meet will return to the Armory on Feb. 9.