Tyler Craig stands atop the medal stand in celebration of his AAAA State Championship in the Pole Vault as well as the new AAAA State Record he had just set, now at the height of 15’7” he cleared last Thursday in Jefferson. Craig will be vaulting next year for the Bulldogs of Gardner Webb University where he has earned a Track & Field Scholarship.
Dragons Tyler Craig and Drew Bellows are graduating seniors, and both put nice finishing touches on their high school Track & Field careers with outstanding performances at the 2013 Georgia Olympics in Jefferson last week. Craig had the best performance of any high school pole vaulter from any classification in the state of Georgia going into the meet with his vault of 16’5” that set the new 4A Sectional West, Carrollton Track not to mention
PHS School Records at last week’s Sectional Meet. Bellows had qualified in 2 events, the 1600 Meter Run and the 800 Meter Run in which he set the new PHS standard at Sectionals after clocking 1:59.96 over the approximately 1/2 mile distance.
Craig was in action first as he would face the other top 15 pole vaulters in AAAA. The 4A Pole Vault Competition evidenced an impressive entourage of onlookers who wanted the chance to witness arguably the state’s best pole vaulter in action. The forecast called for 15-20 mph gusts, but the wind had not been so much of a factor in the day’s earlier pole vault competitions. When it came time for the 4A competition however, the wind began to blow just about as projected as the huge American flag whipped back and forth just above the pole vault pits. Craig sat and watched as, one by one, his other competitors maxed out in height. When Craig was ready to come in at 14’0”, only Jawayln Brooks of Grady was left in the competition.
Both Brooks and Craig made it over 14’0” followed by the next height of 14’6”. After that, Craig was on his own as Brooks could not make 15’0”. Craig made that height and then raised the bar to 15’7”, one inch over the existing AAAA State Record of 15’6” that was set by Caleb Ebbetts of Lee County in 2010. Craig sailed easily over that height with room to spare and was excited with the prospect of going even higher despite the gusty conditions. The bar was then raised to 16’2” and almost all eyes were on Craig as the p.a. announcer related the new 4A record to the crowd in Jefferson. Craig then gave it his all on 3 valiant attempts at 16’2” to no avail as the bar fell each time. Craig would have to settle for a State Championship in the AAAA Pole Vault along with a new State Record height of 15’7” as his name will now be included on the “Wall of Fame” at Jefferson’s Memorial Stadium.