LANDOVER — There’s usually not a whole lot for Jonathan Hatcher to watch when he enters a pole-vault competition.
That’s because most of the field is gone by the time North Caroline High’s standout makes his opening vault. But Hatcher had plenty to watch Monday during the Class 2A state indoor track and field championships, while wedged in a duel with three others at 14 feet.
And then, after missing his third and final attempt at 14, Hatcher, the defending state champion, could watch no more.
“I did think it was mine. I was really disappointed,” said Hatcher, who finished runner-up by way of clearing 13-6 on his second attempt at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex. “I wasn’t on my ‘A’ game, apparently.”
It appeared Hatcher and Century’s Kennell Chandler were headed for a two-way duel at 14 feet before Oakdale’s Nicholas Riley and Zach Ginsburg cleared 13-6 on their final attempts. Chandler then scaled 14 on his first attempt, then watched Hatcher, Riley and Ginsburg try, try and try again with no success at the height.
“I think I was bending the pole too much, and I know I was releasing out instead of going straight up,” said Hatcher, who won the state crown last year at 13-9. “I was bending way too much.”
“Pole vault is so technical,” North Caroline coach Glen Whiteley said. “It could be so many little things gone wrong. The fact that he can’t practice every day because of temperature. It could have been anything today. Mostly today, he wasn’t getting vertical at the end.
“It’s just something we have a hard time practicing this time of year,” Whiteley added. “Jonathan will not only bounce back, he’ll do great in college.”