OMAHA — When the Class D boys pole vault finally wrapped up Saturday afternoon at Omaha Burke Stadium, Harvard senior Josh McDowell won the title by 8 inches over the next finisher with a vault of 14-6.
But it was far from easy.
With four competitors remaining at a height of 13 feet, 10 inches, McDowell needed all three attempts to advance, joining Bloomfield's Adam Haigh as the only two.
Then, at a height of 14-2, McDowell once again needed all three attempts before he finally barely cleared the bar. McDowell clinched the title when Haigh failed to clear the bar on his three attempts. McDowell went on clear 14-6 on his second attempt before coming up short at 14-10, just missing on his third attempt.
"It was nerve-wracking," McDowell said. "I got it through my head right before (the third attempt at 13-10) that I was only jumping 13-6. So that helped a lot. I tried to act like I was just vaulting in practice, but I still had that competitive drive to it."
McDowell said he came into the final track and field meet of his career with a goal of setting his PR, which he ended up tying with his vault of 14-6.
"It feels good, but it's also kind of sour because I knew I could have done better than I did," McDowell said. "I'm not vaulting in college so I'm going to miss it. Track has been life for the last four years. I really love it."
McDowell ended up attempting a total of 15 vaults on the afternoon, along with running the finals of the 110-meter hurdles earlier in the day and the 300 hurdles while the pole vault was going on.
"It's been a long day," said McDowell, who placed sixth in both the 110 hurdles (15.80) and the 300 hurdles (42.32). "I've trained to vault 40 times when I practice, so that's helped a lot. But in practice it's a lot more relaxed.
"I would have liked to make them on my first attempt, like everybody else. But it just wasn't in the plans today."
For Kenesaw, senior Lane Tibbs followed his title Friday in the 3,200 with a third-place finish Saturday in the 1,600 (4:33.95). It was a tight finish as just one second separated the top three runners.
Tibbs, who also ran on the Blue Devils' 3,200 relay team that placed fifth Friday, capped his high school track career Saturday by running on Kenesaw's 1,600 relay team that placed seventh (3:36.74). Senior Jeremiah Panec and juniors Austin Schnitzler and Kory Heier joined Tibbs on the 1,600 relay team.
Panec also won a medal in the 1,600 with Tibbs, placing eighth (4:39.69).
Kenesaw's 400 relay team of senior Trevor Burr, sophomore Preston Schnitzler, Austin Schnitzler and junior Wyatt Woodman added a medal by placing eighth (45.67).
In the team standings, Kenesaw finished sixth with 27 points.
Led by junior Jared Hastings' three medals, Giltner placed ninth with 22 points.
Hastings was second in both the 110 hurdles (15.53) and 300 hurdles (40.63) while running on Giltner's 400 relay team that placed fourth (44.53).
"That was fun," Hastings said of his pair of runner-up finishes. "Being here is just a great meet to be at. I love coming down here and competing. There are a lot of great athletes.
"I was expecting to do that good, but that's how it worked out. I just have to thank my coaches."
Juniors Benjamin Hinrichs and Nicholas Preissler and sophomore Brett Good joined Hastings on the Hornets' fourth-place relay team.