Canandaigua, N.Y. —

After breaking his own school indoor pole vault record this past winter, Canandaigua’s Sam Harding set his sights on the outdoor record. Kelly Lee’s jump of 14 feet and 2 inches had remained the top jump by any Brave since 1977.

The senior broke the 35-year-old record a few times this past spring, and he leaves Canandaigua as the top pole vaulter in school history. Harding is the Daily Messenger’s 2013 Boys Track Athlete of the Year.

“That was a huge thing, I’m very happy for that,” Harding said of the record. “But, I only put on an inch from indoor. I know I’m capable of much more than that.”

The son of Greg and Lynn Harding spent four years on the Braves’ varsity indoor and outdoor track teams. He improved his indoor school record to 14 feet and 6 inches during the 2012-13 season.

At one point, it didn’t look like Harding would have the opportunity to chase the record after he broke his arm early in the season. The original prognosis was a recovery time of four to six weeks — and if it had been six weeks, he wouldn’t have been able to compete. Coach Matt Oberst said there was also concern about whether Harding would have the strength in his arm to vault at the level he did during the indoor season.

The pole vaulter healed quickly and broke the school record in his first week back at the Hilton Runnin’ Cadet Showdown, clearing 14-3. He hit the same mark at a league meet three days later.

The senior won the Section 5 Class A title, giving him three individual sectional titles in his career. He broke the record one last time at the state qualifier meet, clearing 14-7. Harding finished 15th at the state meet and ninth in division 1.

Harding said he’s going to miss the athletes and coaches he’s met through track from Canandaigua and other schools.

“Sam is definitely one of our best pole vaulters that’s come through in the history of Canandaigua,” Oberst said. “He’s the first since 2003 to represent us at states back-to-back as a male athlete and the first back-to-back sectional champion. It’s pretty impressive that he went through all of Section 5 undefeated. Even in all the rain meets we had, no one even came close to him.”

In the fall, Harding is attending the University of Pittsburgh, where he will study business administration.

While Harding was proud to set the records, he’s hoping they won’t stand for another 35 years.

“I’m definitely waiting for my teammate Kevin Palmisano to come through and shatter them,” Harding said. “I’m expecting big things from him.”

Read more:

Harding Vaulter Magazine
Harding Vaulter Magazine

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