However, truth be told, no one was more surprised than McDonald, himself.
“Really, I had no idea, I really didn’t even know that I was ahead until I had cleared 14 feet and, after that, they told me that I was just vaulting for fun, to maybe better my personal best, because I had already won,” said McDonald after he became the first WE state group title winner since Mamadou Niang garnered the 800-meter crown in 2009.
That victory also propelled McDonald into the State Meet of Champions, the SMOC, which was held yesterday, Wednesday, June 5, at Jost.
“I was seeded seventh, so I really had no expectation of winning and, also, since I’ve only been vaulting for just over a year, this is also pretty much all new to me and, obviously, this was the biggest meet that I’ve ever been in.”
Indeed, after McDonald’s older sister, Lauren, set the Lady Knights record by clearing 11 feet as a member of the Class of 2011, the WE coaches figured they would take a shot and put a pole in his hands during his sophomore season as a member of the track and field contingent.
“I really liked learning to pole vault last year, even though I didn’t do all that well. But, I kept working at it during the off-season and improving and I’m just happy that things are beginning to work out pretty well,” said the very humble and understated McDonald.
After both he and High Point senior Connor McHugh cleared 13-and-a-half feet, McDonald cleared 14 on his first try and it took the Sussex County athlete three tries to do the same, with neither getting past the 14-6 height.
That result also gave McDonald the boys’ school record and reinforced his thoughts of vaulting in college.
“My sister has helped coach me and she now holds the school record at Monmouth University, so that’s one place I think I might like to go. Actually, the most important thing for me is that I get to compete at the NCAA Division I level and get a good education,” he said.
“Obviously, Dean has had a tremendous season, but, more than that, he’s a tremendous and very humble young man who pretty much has it all figured out and something like this couldn’t happen to a nicer kid.”
In addition to McDonald’s stunning success, the WE boys’ battalion also had a couple of near misses at the group championships.