Bellevue’s Rowland wins 3rd straight state pole vault title

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even vir­tual locks aren’t guaranteed.

Belle­vue senior Matt Row­land now knows that.

The two-time defend­ing state cham­pion in pole vault was nearly upset Fri­day in the Divi­sion II boys track and field state cham­pi­onships at Jesse Owens Memo­r­ial Stadium.

With two com­peti­tors remain­ing, Row­land missed on his first two attempts with the bar at 15 feet, 0 inches, while his head-to-head oppo­nent, Cam­bridge junior Eric Fox, had already cleared the 15–0 mark.

With only one more miss to spare, Row­land finally cleared the bar at 15–0.

Fox bowed out at the next incre­ment, 15–3, giv­ing Row­land his third straight state title.

Row­land explained his mind­set approach­ing that decid­ing jump at 15–0.

“I knew I could do it,” he said. “I just had to get it through my head that it was going to hap­pen. I got a lit­tle ner­vous, because I was think­ing after two titles, to blow it on the third one …

“It was good for me because it was an eye­opener, because I could be beat here.”

Row­land, with his state cham­pi­onship Fri­day, became the first ath­lete in Belle­vue High School his­tory to win three indi­vid­ual state titles in any sport, and emerged from a tie with his cousin, Chad Beamer, as the only two-time state pole vault cham­pi­ons at Bellevue.

Row­land dis­cussed the accom­plish­ment of win­ning three state titles Friday.

“It’s very big,” he said. “I’ve dreamed of this when I was in fifth grade, when I first started, dream­ing of break­ing my cousin Chad’s two-time mark.

“It’s a huge accomplishment.”

His win Fri­day came in the final sea­son in the career of Belle­vue pole vault coach Shawn Beamer, who is Rowland’s uncle.

Row­land described Beamer’s role in his pole vault­ing career.

“He’s def­i­nitely the biggest part of my suc­cess,” Row­land said. “He’s coached me since my sum­mer going into fifth grade.”

Row­land owns the school, North­ern Ohio League, Region 6 and Divi­sion II records for high­est jumps in pole vault.

With the state title in hand Fri­day, after Fox was elim­i­nated, Row­land went after one more record in his final high school career — the state meet record.

He made three attempts at 16–4.25, nar­rowly miss­ing on his final two jumps.

“My third attempt was my best,” he said. “If I would have went to my big­ger pole, I might have cleared it by a lot. I tried to play it safe and it backfired.

“The state title was the most impor­tant part.”

Row­land had to fend off a deeper field of com­peti­tors this year com­pared to last.

By com­par­i­son, in 2012, Rowland’s win­ning mark was 21 inches above the next high­est fin­isher, and last year’s runner-up height would have placed 10th out of 16 com­peti­tors Friday.

Row­land com­mented on the field of com­peti­tors he faced Friday.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like this in my years jump­ing here,” he said. “It was the best field I’ve ever jumped against.”

Row­land will go after another state cham­pi­onship Saturday.

At about 2:15 p.m. Fri­day, he qual­i­fied for today’s 110-meter hur­dles final after fin­ish­ing sec­ond in his heat and fourth over­all in Friday’s pre­lim­i­nar­ies with a time of 14.56 seconds.

The top two fin­ish­ers in each heat plus the next five fastest times regard­less of heat advanced from Friday’s pre­lims to today’s final event.

Matt Rowland
Matt Rowland


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