VALLEY CENTER — A tailwind is murder for all but one event in track and field.

In the short races and jumps, a good performance can be tainted with a “w,” indicating wind-aided, making it unacceptable for record consideration. A tailwind can knock down a discus throw.

But the pole vault gets all the benefits without the “w.”

Vista’s Connor Rouse soared 16 feet, 3 inches for the boys and Rancho Bernardo’s Mimi Lian 13 feet for the girls, setting meet records and personal bests Saturday to highlight the Jaguar Invitational at Valley Center High.

The meet was held in raw, blustery conditions, but both vaulters thrived.

For Rouse, the 16-3 clearance added seven inches to his personal best while erasing the previous meet standard of 15-8 set in 2003 by Rancho Bernardo’s Billy Matthies. The mark is third best in the state this year and is No. 6 all-time in the San Diego Section.

“I really didn’t feel that good warming up, I was kind of sore, but there were 20 mph wind gusts allowing me to get on a heavier pole,” said the Panthers senior, who missed three attempts at 16-7.

Rouse cleared 15-6 in one pit — on his third and last try — but switched to a different pit for his 16-0 and 16-3 clearances.

“The standards in the first pit were bending in and I told the officials the bar was wobbly,” said Rouse. “We moved into a pit with standards that I have at home and know won’t wobble.”

Lian regained the section lead in what has become a very hot event this year.

“This was awesome,” she declared before pushing the bar to 13-3¼ in three unsuccessful attempts to leap over former UCLA great Tracy O’Hara atop the Broncos’ school-record board. “Wow — 13.”

For Lian it was especially gratifying because she missed almost all of last year with a torn ACL and joins a very elite group of just four others who have scaled that height in section history.

She also moves to No. 1 in the state by one inch and is equal to No. 2 in the nation.

Earlier in the week Lian cleared 12-8, but the very next day McKenzie Johnson of Clairemont regained the section lead at 12-9.

“It’s good to have competition — I love competition,” said Lian.

Lian had no misses until 13-0, zooming past Santa Margarita’s Claire Hawkins, who in 2009 cleared 12-3. Switching to a heavier pole, Lian missed her first two attempts at 13-0 before soaring over by at least two inches.

“Everything was working correctly,” said Lian, a junior. “That was my first clearance on that pole.”

By Steve Brand

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Mimi Lian

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