As the 18th seed in a field of 20, Brandon Stacy wasn’t expecting to contend for the win in the boys pole vault at the Penn Relays.
But swirling winds made the conditions difficult at Franklin Field, and Stacy handled it more efficiently than anyone. Six vaulters wound up in a tie after clearing 14 feet, 9 inches, and the Caravel senior earned the victory by having fewer misses than his competitors on Saturday in Philadelphia.
“Everybody was struggling today,” Stacy said. “I was surprised that it came down to that. It’s kind of a low height for such a prestigious event, but I’m happy I won.”
It marked the second time in three years that a Delawarean won the boys pole vault. Appoquinimink’s Michael Jensen soared 16-4¾ to take the title in 2012.
Stacy thought it would take a similar height to win this year, as one of the competitors had already cleared 16-6 in an earlier meet. But the weather changed everything.
“It was really windy, and everybody says the wind swirls at Franklin Field and it’s very hard to cope with,” Stacy said. “Everybody was struggling, but I honestly felt like I was doing better for some reason. I loved it.”
Six vaulters cleared 14-9, but all of them missed all three attempts at 15-3. Stacy, who cleared a career-best 15-0 at the A.I. du Pont Relays on March 22, felt all three of his attempts at 15-3 were solid, but not quite enough.
With the six-way tie at 14-9, it came down to misses. Only Stacy and Nick Neral of Sykesville, Md., had cleared 14-9 on their first attempt. But Stacy had cleared 14-3 on his first attempt and Neral had missed, so Stacy was the winner.
“He was consistent, and that’s what did it today,” said Kelly Strickland, a Caravel assistant and Stacy’s pole-vault coach. “It wasn’t a big height that won the meet, it was who was consistent and did it without having misses. Misses matter.”
Strickland vaulted in the Penn Relays at Caravel and Kutztown University, so she knew how tricky the conditions could be. Stacy also competed at Penn last year, clearing 13-9¾ to tie for 12th, so he knew what to expect.
He never expected to scale the winner’s podium and receive a huge ovation from a crowd of 49,103, but it happened.
“It was unbelievable,” Stacy said. “It was one of the best moments of my life, just seeing the crowd and all the cheers. It was the greatest feeling.”
In other Delaware performances on Saturday at Penn:
• Padua finished third in the girls 4×400 Philadelphia Area final, with Christina Allen, Taliah Cintron, Angie Spadaccini and Maiya Dendy rolling home in 3:54.72.
• Delcastle finished fifth in the 4×100 Tri-State girls final, with Khaleese Woolbright, Sherita Lowman, Morgan Bennett and Royce Aiken finishing in 48.33 seconds.
• St. Georges took fifth in the 4×100 small-school boys final, with Zack Bowe, Austyn Warren, Keyjuan Selby and Taronn Selby finishing in 42.83.
• Milford’s Ryan Thomas finished sixth in the triple jump with a leap of 47 feet, 10¾ inches.
• Howard won the Northern Delaware boys 4×400, with Emanuel Hitch, Na’Quan Evans, Yimka Ajao and Domingo Johnson finishing in 3:27.10. The foursome struggled later in the Philadelphia Area final, finishing 12th in 3:36.07.
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