CLOVIS —- Peter Chapman never felt the pressure.
He didn’t feel it when he cleared 16 feet in the pole vault earlier this year, he didn’t when he held the state’s top mark, and he didn’t when he entered the CIF State Track and Field Championships as the No. 2-seeded pole vaulter in the state.
He certainly didn’t feel it Saturday.
The Murrieta Valley senior capped a fine track career with a state crown Saturday night at Buchanan High, as he outlasted Oak Park’s Connor Stark to win the pole vault.
Chapman’s victory capped up a banner year in track for the Valley, which saw a whopping 18 medalists come out of Saturday’s competition —- 11 from Vista Murrieta, five from Great Oak, and one each from Murrieta Valley and Elsinore.
Chapman, who finished fifth in the pole vault a year ago, clinched when both he and Stark missed when the bar went to 16 feet, 8 inches. Chapman cleared 16-4 on his second attempt, Stark on his third, and that was the difference between a champion and a runner-up.
“This was a great competition this whole weekend,” Chapman said. “Friday, in prelims, we had 19 guys in at 15-6. Competition-wise, this was the toughest I’ve seen all year.”
Well, it was supposed to be. But it was nothing new for Chapman.
He has been on the top of the state lists all season and he was the Valley’s best chance at a state crown entering championship weekend. Chapman, though, said he thrived on that pressure and it helped as he won the Valley’s third state title in four years —- following Vista Murrieta’s Nick Ross (high jump) in 2009 and Jovonte Slater (long jump) last year.
“For it me, with pressure, it works the other way,” he said. “It gives me confidence out there.”
He said the duel with Stark was a lot of fun.
“Pole vaulting is a little different than a sprinter or a long jumper,” said Chapman, who said he signed a letter-of-intent last week to go to the University of South Dakota. “We compete, but we know it’s anybody’s game out here. We’re definitely friends, and that friendship is out there.”
There were a lot of friends out there, and doing well, Saturday.
By LANDON NEGRI