Wenatchee pole vault coach David Morris has a school record captured on film.
In the recording, Evan Britt launches about eight inches over a 15 foot, 1-1/2 inch mark, grazing over the current school record of 15-1 and making a mark that should be good enough to win a state title.
Video doesn’t lie, but due to a miniscule error, the number didn’t count. Britt’s cleared the record-setting height in practice and also at the Big Nine district championship meet in Yakima, but he held on to his pole for too long, negating the impressive score.
It’s a common predicament for pole vaulters: The slightest miscue or the most minute lapse can wash out a phenomenal run.
But thanks to a steadily inspiring climb and a recent equipment upgrade, there’s plenty of reason to believe the senior is bound for new heights this weekend in Tacoma.
“I know I have it in me,” the 19-year-old said. “Just everything has to go right.”
A minor mistake undid the big leap, but plenty’s gone right so far this season.
Morris, whose worked as the head pole vaulting coach at Wenatchee for five years, saw Britt explode from an 11-foot personal record as a sophomore to a 13-foot mark his junior season.
After spending the early part of his senior year in the 13-foot range, he cleared 14-3 for the first time in his career at a league meet in May.
He posted a 14-6 eight days later and repeated that performance at districts to clinch a state berth.
The 128-pounder’s ascension has been the model for the improvement Morris would like to see.
“My goal for my athletes is a 1-foot improvement,” he said. “That’s what I look for each year. A really good year is a foot and a half. I’ve had kids that have done 2 feet. Evan did 2 feet last year and he’s a foot and a half this year, so he has it in him.”
In all likelihood, the senior vaulter had it in him the whole time, but his equipment was holding him back.
Britt started the season using a 14-3, 140-pound (the amount of weight the pole can support) pole, but upgraded to a 14-7, 150 UCS-brand pole with more speed in early May.
Pairing the new equipment with an already experienced vaulter has made all the difference.
“(It was) a morale booster.” Britt said. “It was good. It made me think positive.”
Britt goes into state tied for the top mark in state this year and he could have a state record, thanks to the upgraded tool box. But nothing is guaranteed.
A heavy side wind would be extremely detrimental to his approach, and the slightest mechanical error could snub him from standing atop the podium.
“I know I can (do it),” he said. “So it’s now just working on my technique, on my top form, exploding off the pole versus hanging on and letting gravity take hold — which is a bad habit of mine.”
Everything leading up to that point is a polished product, though. Morris said Britt’s approach — his fast lead-up run, his plant and his takeoff — are all top-notch.
From a psychological standpoint, Britt’s in the right mind set too, Morris said.
“Evan’s found what I would call a zone,” he said. “… He’s just kind of found a nice quiet place at the meets where he can really focus on what he’s going to do, and he doesn’t let any external distractions bother him.”
Britt will bring a bag full of poles suited to accommodate any weather. If it’s a still day, he gets to bust out the 14-7 pole and go after that 15-1 1/2 mark Morris caught on camera earlier this month. If there’s a heavy side wind, he might have to go the safe route and drop down to a smaller pole.
But after logging about seven years in the event, Britt — making his first state appearance — has a deep storage of experience and rote memorization to propel him.
“We usually jump between 100 and 200 times in a season,” he said. “So you know the right way to do it and your muscles do, too, so you just have to rely on that.”