WARWICK — The greatest outdoor pole vault competition in Section 9 history, and likely all of New York state as well, actually took place indoors Friday. Records fell or were assailed with great zeal, and the debate about what marks would have counted or not can be left for the historians to quibble.
The state’s top three public school vaulters locked horns, with Warwick’s Todd Uckermark coming out on top at 16 feet — he joins a short list of six boys in the past 29 years who have won an event at the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association championships for three years in a row.
“That does mean a lot to me,” said Uckermark, who will compete for High Point (N.C.) University next school year. “The first time I won was my sophomore year and that was the first time I jumped 15 foot “» that was something else. Last year I broke the school record, 15-8, and this year I won it again. Now the height wasn’t where I wanted it to be but I am happy to be able to do it and my teammate coming in second means a lot to me, especially since it’s my last OCIAA championships.”
With victory in hand, Uckermark took aim at the state record of 17-2 — he ran through the first attempt, he left his pole too soon and caught the bar on the way up on the second and he took the bar down with his hips on the third try.
“I think 17 foot is in the cards outdoors,” Uckermark said. “I do have one more heavier pole that I can go on to so if it’s a nice day with a little tail wind, that could be good.”
The weather was hardly cooperative Friday, with persistent rain and strong winds prompting meet officials to condense the OCIAA championships into one day on Saturday at Warwick High School. Since the runways would be used for long and triple jump, the decision was made to hold the pole vaulting indoors on Friday at the nearby Hudson Valley Flying Circus barn, which seemed just fine since most of the top pole vaulters train there year round.
Warwick’s Derek DiBona and Monroe-Woodbury’s Travis Fountain each cleared 15 feet, 7 inches, with DiBona taking second on fewer misses at that height. It is the first time in sectional history that three pole vaulters have cleared 15-7 in a single meet.
“I think we all pushed ourselves,” DiBona said. “Todd is jumping 15-7 and that makes me want to jump 15-7 and it makes Travis want to go higher. It’s helping us all go higher.”
Fountain came out storming on Friday, making his first attempts at 13-6, 14, 14-6 and 15. Ultimately, that might have been his undoing since he felt tired at 15-7, a height agreed to by the three boys and one that would allow Fountain to break the long-standing Monroe-Woodbury record of 15-6 set by Mike Uhelsky. Fountain missed his first two attempts at 15-7 and finally went over on his third try.
“I’ve been jumping since seventh grade so it feels good to leave a mark on the school before I leave, have my name stick around a little longer than I did,” said Fountain, who has a scholarship to jump at Binghamton University next school year. “Hopefully it will last a while.”
Flying Circus coach Tim St. Lawrence said had Uckermark set the state mark, it would not have counted since the meet was held indoors. But consider, the same three boys made Section 9 history just a few months ago when they all cleared 15 feet in the same meet, and that trio’s standard is now 15-7.
Monroe-Woodbury junior Sam Beyar won the girls’ meet at 12 feet, 1 inch, matching a personal best set last week at Crusader Relays. It is also the state’s top jump for girls.
“It’s nice that I am getting consistent,” Beyar said. “It’s awesome because 12 feet is really a big barrier for everyone. To get over it, even one time, is crazy to me.”
Beyar was jumping only nine feet a year ago so her rapid improvement is impressive. She, too, has been training at The Barn since last fall. “I’ve been super dedicated to that,” she said. Beyar said it wasn’t just one thing that improved, just a bunch of little things.
The OCIAA meet resumes at 9 a.m. Friday at the high school — it is expected to last at least eight hours. The second day of the pentathlon and non-scoring javelin will be held at the high school at 2 p.m. Monday, so team scores will not be final until then.
Pole vault: 1. Todd Uckermark (Warwick) 16-0; 2. Derek Dibona (Warwick) 15-7; 3. Travis Fountain (Monroe-Woodbury) 15-7; 4. Andrew Matta (Newburgh) 12-6; 5. (tie) Illich Andino (Middletown) and Brandon Nebiker (Monroe-Woodbury) 12-0.
Standings (after day 1): 1. Warwick 18 points; 2. Monroe-Woodbury 7.5; 3. Newburgh Free Academy 4; 4. Middletown 1.5.
Pole vault: 1. Sam Beyar (Monroe-Woodbury) 12-1; 2. Catherine Walker (Monroe-Woodbury) 11-6; 3. Erin Leahey (Warwick) 10-6; 4. Katarina Van Ledtje (Cornwall) 9-0; 5. Crystal Nelson (James I. O’Neill) 9-0; 6. Alexis Finn (Monroe-Woodbury) 9-0.
Standings (after day 1): Monroe-Woodbury 19 points; 2. Warwick 6; 3. Cornwall 4; 4. James I. O’Neill 2.
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