Sam Harding reached new heights in the pole vault for Canandaigua this winter. The senior finished the indoor track season as the best in his event in Section 5 and finished fifth at the state championships.
Harding is the Daily Messenger’s 2013 Boys Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
The senior set lofty goals early in the season. Harding wanted to win sectionals, take first at the state qualifier and medal at states. He came through on all three.
“It really was everything I thought it could be,” Harding said. “My huge achievement was I tied my (personal record) at states and I’ve never been good at the state meet. This year, I really came through.”
The son of Greg and Lynn Harding wrapped up his fourth year of varsity indoor track for the Braves. Athletes are only allowed to start doing the pole vault as freshmen. Coach Matt Oberst introduced Harding to the pole vault that year.
Going into the season, Harding held the school indoor record with a vault of 13 feet, 3 inches, which he cleared at the 2012 state qualifier.
Harding’s big senior year started by clearing 13-6. He shattered that record by recording a vault of 14-4 at the SUNY Brockport Invitational on Feb. 2. The senior won his first indoor Section 5 Class B title by clearing 13-3. Teammate Kevin Palmisano took second at sectionals with a 12-0. Harding also tied for fourth in the high jump at sectionals, tying a personal record of 5-8.
Harding broke the school record again at Section 5’s State Qualifier, getting over 14-6. He reached 14-6 again at the state meet, good enough for fifth in the state and fourth among public school athletes. He came up just six inches shy of the state champion.
“I still can’t get over that,” the senior said. “Another good vault would have put me at the state title. I’m not upset. I never thought I would have had the opportunity.”
To close out the indoor season, Harding attended the New Balance Indoor Nationals at the New Balance Track and Field Center in New York City. The Canandaigua star tied for 10th in the emerging elite division by clearing 14-3.5. He said he was close to getting over 14-9, hitting the bar on the way down.
Oberst said Harding’s size, strength and jumping ability help him excel in the event, but it’s his work ethic that made him Section 5’s best. Harding also trains with pole vaulting coach Mike Auble. Oberst also noted that Harding has taken Palmisano, a
“Sam is one of our best leaders that has come through our indoor program,” Oberst said. “He was the second guy ever to medal in a state meet and the second ever sectional champion. Every time he pole vaulted he broke the school record and he went undefeated the whole indoor season (in Section 5). The guy just dominated the sport.”
Harding still has the outdoor season to go, where he is taking aim at the school outdoor record of 14-2. His personal goal is 15-2 or higher.
In the fall, Harding will attend either the University of Pittsburgh or Virginia Tech for business. He is looking to continue pole vaulting.