OMAHA — The Class D boys pole vault was one of the deeper events at Friday’s state meet at Omaha Burke High School. Ten vaulters eclipsed the 13-foot mark. And four of those were Tribland athletes.
But when all was said and done, it was Sutherland’s Connor Floyd that took the gold medal, clearing 14 feet, 2 inches. Bruning-Davenport/Shickley’s Aaron Mick took third (13-10) after misses were taken into account to determine second place.
“Coming in, I knew there were people that had jumped higher than me, but I wasn’t too worried about it,” Mick said. “I just wanted to come out and have fun and do my best. That’s what I did, I got a new PR again and I couldn’t really ask for anything else.”
Friday’s event marked the first time in 10 years a member of the Mick family didn’t win gold in the pole vault, but Aaron is pleased with his effort. His dad, and the Eagles’ pole vault coach, told Aaron he had no reason to feel down about third place.
“He pretty much just said he was proud of me and that I had nothing to hang my head about,” Aaron said.
Joining Mick from the area was Harvard’s Noah Okraska (third place, 13-6), Wilcox-Hildreth’s AJ Jenkins (fifth, 13-0) and Deshler’s Holden Ruhnke (13-0). Ben Okraska also competed and cleared the 12-0 mark.
Noah Okraska said the group of vaulters have competed so many times with each other that they are close enough to help each other out in between jumps.
“There are some things that athletes do that coaches don’t, so, like, I’ll get done with a jump and I’ll have someone that’s already out critique my jump and it’s actually a beneficial piece of advice,” he said. “Everyone sees eye-to-eye. Nobody looks down on each other; we’re all looking to get better, helping each other and being positive.
“We’re buddies with all the guys; probably going to go text them later. It was just a bunch of fun.”
All of those Tribland athletes will have the opportunity to try and qualify for state in the event again next year, except for Jenkins, who is a senior. Noah was in his third trip to the state meet, and he said he’s grown with each visit.
“It’s just a blessing that I’m back down here. It’s my third year in a row, and my freshman year it was just a really good experience,” Okraska said. “I didn’t do too hot, but it was a good experience for me so that I could come back with a more business-like mentality and try to do some damage on the medal boards.”
BDS got another big medal on the boys side, as John Christensen took home silver in the shot put, throwing for a mark of 51 feet, 6 1/2 inches.
“I felt great. It was probably one of my best throws all year,” Christensen said. “It definitely felt great after I threw it. And, just looking out there, it’s been a lot of hard work so it’s very fulfilling to come out and do this today.”
Lawrence-Nelson’s Kyle Golay placed third in the shot put, with a toss of 51-0 3/4. Riley Racicky of Pleasanton eclipsed both Tribland throwers in the finals, hitting a mark of 53-2 1/2. Christensen said the field was chalked full of tough competition.
“Not only did I get second in my district, but there’s a lot of competition here at state, a lot of 50s and 49s,” he said. “Anybody could have gotten first (Friday), but it went how it went.”
Wilcox-Hildreth’s Sidney Gruwell took fifth place in the triple jump (42-9 1/2).
The Giltner girls are attempting to win their fifth straight team state championship and got off to a good start on Friday. The Hornets placed fifth in the 3,200 relay (10:24.01) and got six more points from Brooke Wilson’s third-place finish in the 3,200.
She finished the race in 12:12.21, passing two runners in the final 100 meters.
“Let’s just say, I was dying,” Wilson said with a laugh. “I thought I was going to settle for sixth. Then, all of a sudden I said, ‘This race is fine.’ I wanted to be done so I kicked it in and I passed some people and I got a good time. I was excited about that.”
Giltner is well involved in the team race going into Saturday. Wilson said the team has the goal of a fifth straight title, but the Hornets are overwhelming themselves with pressure.
“It’s just nice to start (the meet) with points; it’s a good feeling. We’re really pushing for that five-peat. Whatever happens happens, but I think we’re on to a good start right now,” she said.
Exeter-Milligan’s Katherine White was fourth in the long jump (16-10 3/4).