How good is the Newcomerstown Trojans pole vaulting team?
Results speak volumes, and over the years the Trojans’ vaulters have proven time and again they are among the elite jumpers in Div. III.
Sophomore Hunter Garretson continued to prove that point when he snagged second place in the 2018 111th annual boys state track and field meet in Columbus on June 1.
A quick glance through the record books, and you see just how good this vaulting program is. In 1995 Newcomerstown’s Jamie Lewis set the OHSAA Div. III record by clearing 16-04. Last year Garretson’s teammate Ryan Stevens won with a leap of 15-02. Now Garretson adds his name to the all-time greats with a runner-up effort that earned him All-Ohio accolades.
“Each winter we practice really hard in the off-season in our indoor facility, which is OK, but it sometimes leaks,” Garretson said with a laugh. “But it gets the job done. I think it all comes down to two things: our willingness to work at this and our coaches being willing to teach us everything they know about the sport. They have put in as much time as we do as athletes, so the credit goes to them as much as it does to us.”
It became evident early on that Garretson was going to be around for the podium call. He easily whipped past 13-06 and 14 feet before passing at 14-04. He came back into the fray at 14-08 and cleared that height on his first attempt. By then just three jumpers remained including Inter-Valley Conference mate Joel Berger of East Canton and Covington’s Jeff Murphy.
Berger would bow out trying to clear 15 feet while Murphy would make the height on his first attempt. That meant Garretson would need to clear it to hang on to his hopes for a title.
After misfiring on his first two attempts, he gathered up every fiber of courage he could, focused on his technique and cleared 15 feet to keep himself in the hunt for a title.
The bar moved to 15-04, but neither competitor could clear it. The title then rested on misses, and having missed twice at 15 feet to Murphy’s clean slate, Murphy was awarded the title.
As a freshman Garretson was a sensational vaulter but couldn’t even make it to districts because he had two incredible talents in front of him including Stevens. The other competitor was his brother Dylan, who also made it to state last year and also earned All-Ohio honors with a seventh-place finish.
Having been to state to watch his brother and Stevens perform set the stage for Garretson to be able to understand just how big the scenario is at state.
“Getting a chance to come down last year and watch our guys compete at state is a big plus because you get a sense of how big everything is at state and it isn’t brand new,” Garretson said. “It’s pretty wild.”
This year became Garretson’s time to shine, and with two years left, he hopes to shine a lot brighter. He will return again next season to try to find his way back to the vault at Columbus, where he hopes to improve one more spot and secure the highest stand on the podium.