Richland High’s Larry Still set a school record in the pole vault Friday by the hairs on his chinny chin chin.
Still cleared 15 feet, 9 inches despite hitting the bar and eventually cleared 16-0 to win the Class 4A pole vault at the Eastern Washington regional meet at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.
“I think I hit (the bar) with my chin,” Still said. “I threw my arms back to get over it.”
It was his third attempt at 15-9 and broke his previous school record of 15-4 set earlier this season. He eventually reached the elite 16-foot barrier and took three shots at 16-4, which would have set the meet record.
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“It’s pretty satisfying,” he said. “But it is more satisfying knowing that my work paid off. And I’m fortunate enough to have a coach as good as Rich Crigler get me this far.”
Crigler, the Richland pole vault coach, and Southridge vault coach Dave Hurst — who coaches Still during the winter vaulting season — were both raving about their young prodigy who made the entire meet his captive audience.
Every attempt he took at 16-4, caused the big stadium to grind to a halt to watch. And while he didn’t get the record, it wasn’t for trying.
“I’m proud for Larry and his parents,” Crigler said. “He is a good, good kid. Works hard. There are a lot of talented kids out there with more physical talent than Larry, but they don’t have the mental talent and they didn’t have the means to work the way he did.”
Still began vaulting as a freshman, but is a quick study and is soaring up the ranks. His 16-foot clearance is the best in the state this season, and the junior has the inside track to a state title next week in Tacoma.
He outdueled Mead vaulter Braden Barranco for the title Friday, borrowing a pole from Chiawana because he didn’t have any big enough to try the soaring heights the competition had reached.
“We were jumping on the 14-foot, 7-inch pole, so we had to borrow a pole,” Still said. “All the pole vaulters is like a big family. Everyone loves everyone. There is a competition aspect of it, but we are all family.”
That was never more evident than when Still was going for the meet record, and the University High coaches were offering up ideas to Still. University High’s xxxx set the meet record of 16-3 in 2001.
“I love all these pole vault coaches,” Crigler said. “There is nobody here that is not happy for him. We are happy for everyone. It is a really, really good fraternity. You can tell how much we joke and have fun.”
Chiawana’s Roman Ruiz will join Still and Barranco at state, having cleared the qualifying standard of 14-5. The sophomore topped out at 14-8.
w Craig Craker: 582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org