Unlike last year, senior Jake Blankenship of the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys track and field team didn’t win the pole vault in the Division I state meet held June 1 and 2 at Ohio State in dramatic fashion.
After clearing his opening height of 15 feet, 8 inches on June 2, he easily cleared 16-0 and watched as runner-up Aaron Owens of Middleburg Heights failed to clear that height on three attempts.
But having easily secured the state title didn’t stop Blankenship from ending his prep career on a high note, as he went on to clear 17-2 to break his own state record by an inch.
He then took three shots at clearing 17-7 before taking his place at the top of the awards podium where he received a loud ovation.
“It was a lot less competitive than it was last year, but I enjoyed the experience again and winning another state title still feels special,” said Blankenship, who last year cleared a then-state record of 17-0 to win his first state title, ahead of 2011 Olentangy Liberty graduate Joey Uhle (16-6) and 2011 Liberty graduate Chris Uhle (16-0). “There was still good competition with (three) other guys jumping 15-4 or 15-8, but it was nice to have it won after I jumped 16-0 because that gave me the chance to go for the state record on my next jump.”
The University of Tennessee recruit almost cleared 17-7 on his second attempt, but he brushed the bar with his side on the way down.
“It was nice to break my state record here, even if it was only by one inch,” Blankenship said. “I was hoping I could jump 17-7 to get a new (personal record), but it may be a good thing that I’m moving up slowly instead of peaking too soon. I’ve still got years ahead of me to improve.”
Blankenship placed fourth (15-8) in his first state appearance in 2010.
“Jake is an outstanding young man and he had another great performance,” coach Ed Rarey said. “It’s amazing how competitive these pole vaulters are, but if you watch closely, you’ll see that they’re all great friends who help each other get better.”
Blankenship’s performance helped Gahanna score 19 points at state to finish 10th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (48) as 70 teams scored.
By AARON BLANKENSHIP