COLUMBUS — The long, injury-riddled road Berne Union senior Jesse Oxley took to the state meet paid off in the best possible way Friday.
Oxley won the Division III state championship in the pole vault Friday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. He was the only competitor to clear 15-feet-0.
“I couldn’t ask for a better day,” Oxley said. “This is the best feeling I could have left high school with. Knowing I can represent my school with a state championship, it’s great.”
Oxley overcame serious injuries in two consecutive seasons to get to the top. As a junior, a torn hip flexor eliminated Oxley from the postseason. After winning the state indoor title in the event in March, Oxley started the outdoor season with a personal-best 15-4 in the first meet of the year before getting injured again.
A stress fracture in Oxley’s leg limited him for much of the season, as he was held out of five meets and did not start competing again until the Mid-State League-Cardinal Division meet.
“Halfway through the season when I hurt my leg, I didn’t think I was going to make it here at all,” said Oxley, a Kent State recruit. “Just being here, then let alone winning, it’s just so awesome.”
Oxley’s goal was to finish in the top three. Nine qualifiers had regional heights at or better than Oxley’s 14-0. Old Fort’s Nathan Alexander and Oxley were the only two to clear 14-8 on Friday, and Oxley cleared 15-0 on his second try. Oxley eventually attempted 15-6 after securing the championship, but missed.
“I thought I’d have to jump really good to win it,” Oxley said. “Coming off the injury, I haven’t had much practice. Just jumping 15, I’m really happy with that.”
By Vince Nairn