Delbarton’s Mike Benz cleared 15-0 for the first time in his career as he tied the Morris County record and captured the pole vault title at the 46th boys NJSIAA/The Star-Ledger Meet of Champions yesterday at the Bennett Center in Toms River.
Benz attempt card was clean until he reached 15-6, and the event marked the first time in meet history that at least five people reached 15-0. Benz, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania next fall, won the event on fewer misses.
“The competition was tough, but I always try to block out what everyone else is doing and just focus on hitting my own bar,” Benz said.
Entering the M of C, Benz’ personal best indoors was 14-9, which he nailed on Dec. 22 at the Armory Youth Holiday Classic in New York City.
“Being able to win the title is nice, but to be honest, I’ve been going for 15-0 for quite some time now,” Benz said. “I cleared 14-9 in the first meet of the season, and I’ve been going for 15-0 ever since then.”
Benz edged out runner-ups Luke Annichiarico of Old Tappan, the state-leader at 15-6, and Abe Gertler of Madison, who both finished at 15-0. Benz is now tied with Gertler and Jordan Pacheco of Morris Hills (who reached 15-0 last season) for the county record. Dylan Altland of Kingsway (15-0) placed fourth and Trevor Knowles of North Hunterdon (15-0) was fifth.
“After I started vaulting this year, I thought today would be the day that I reached 15-0,” Benz said.
With strong competition, Benz knew the pressure was on later in the event when all five vaulters hit 15-0.
“I noticed how many people cleared 15-0 and I was feeling some pressure,” Benz said. “I’m one of those guys that performs better at meets than in practice. I actually like having that pressure on me.”
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