Canyon pole vaulter Jeremiah Chow is clearing the bar

Chow is the first vaulter in 44 years to compete at state

Canyon High pole vaulter Jeremiah Chow has repeatedly said if someone had told him he would be competing at the 2016 CIF State Track and Field Championships he wouldn’t have believed them.

But his vault coach Frank Rock had an inkling at the beginning of Chow’s senior season.

“At the beginning of the season, like in October or November, Frank says, ‘I want to take you to state this season,’” Chow says. “And I laughed because I was on a really light pole, and I was barely clearing 14 feet. I just never thought I’d ever get to see state.”

But in one swift vault last Friday, Chow cleared 15 feet in the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet at Cerritos College to automatically qualify for state at Clovis High, which begins today at 5 p.m.


The 15-0 vault not only tied the all-time Santa Clarita Valley mark, first accomplished by Canyon alumnus Jeremy Kimmer in 2014, but it also erases a 44-year drought of SCV vaulters at the state meet.

“It means a lot,” Rock says of a vaulter advancing to state for the first time since 1972. “I’ve been developing a program at Canyon for years. And up until this year, I only had three kids go as far as Masters, never had a state jumper. Jeremiah is my first.

“I thought probably towards the end of his sophomore year, that’s when I told him he has something. He went 11-0 his junior year and coming off the pole vertically. And I was telling his parents, ‘He’s got something and it’s going to come. Not overnight, but it’s going to come.’”

And Rock would know if a vaulter has “something.”

Just before Hart High’s Ray Baxter made an appearance at state in the pole vault in 1972, Rock competed for Hart at state in 1968, clearing 13-06 and finishing in ninth. Baxter took sixth four years later with a 14-0 mark.

Rock went on to Glendale College, holding the vault record for a few years after clearing 15-06. At San Jose State University, Rock tied for fourth in the NCAA finals and sixth at nationals. In 1973, he was ranked eighth in the nation and had a personal-best vault the following year, 17-0.

“He’s a really good coach,” Chow says of Rock. “He basically kept me on the team when I was horrible. He helped me through all of this. And Jeremy Kimmer has really helped me get over 15-0 this season.”


A steady climber

Chow has now cleared 15-0 twice this season. His first time was at the Foothill League track and field finals to take the league crown, and then again last week at the Masters Meet.

But the now-graduated senior wasn’t always hitting his marks. He actually wasn’t even going to be a vaulter.

In his freshman year, Chow was originally going to go out for cross country. But an email from Canyon head track and field coach Paul Broneer asking for athletes to try out for vault, and a nudge from his friend — and fellow 2016 CIF-SS Masters Meet competitor — Jake Bennett, Chow decided to vault.

“I was a terrible vaulter in freshman year. I had no idea what I was doing,” Chow says. “My first meet our freshman year me and Jake both no heighted, and I remember I was really sad. We weren’t that great when we first started.”
Chow’s best height was 9-0 in his first year. But he had three personal records in a preleague meet the following year, bumping his height up to 11-0.

“He had natural abilities as a coach you welcome, because there was certain things you didn’t have to teach him,” Rock recalls about Chow. “He kind of picked up on his own.”

In his junior campaign, he raised the bar another two feet, PR’ing at 13-0.

“I knew I wasn’t fast, so I didn’t want to join sprints,” Chow says. “I just didn’t want to quit because I liked it, even though I was terrible. I just like the fact that not a lot of people know about it, and it’s a different event.

“It’s not like football where it’s a whole team. I mean track is a team, but this event is about you.”

15-0 and beyond

There are 30 competitors scheduled to compete at the 2016 CIF State Track and Field Championships today, with Chow ranked No. 17.

Thirteen of Chow’s opponents come in with a seed mark of 15-0, and the starting height is going to be 14-08.
Rock said it will probably take a 15-02 vault to advance past prelims, which would be a new PR for Chow and record for the SCV.

“He’s really capable,” Rock says. “He’s not afraid or intimidated by the higher heights. He knows he can do it. It’s just a matter of everything works out. There’s going to be 30 vaulters, and they have to work through in very apt conditions.”

The high temperature is scheduled to be 106 degrees at the state meet. The weather conditions were so severe that the CIF moved the meet back a few hours to begin at 5 p.m.

But Chow is up for the challenge.

“Now that I’ve been there, and passed CIF prelims, and CIF Finals, it’s kind of a cool experience to end senior year,” Chow says. “I’m hoping to get over 15-0 with ease and 15-02, or 15-06 or whatever they decide to put it at after.”






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