Proffitt vaults his way to state championship

Sechrist, Thiessen meet tough competition

Staff writer

State champion pole-vaulter Tyler Proffitt made his own luck.

Beginning the summer following his sophomore year, Proffitt dedicated himself to pole vaulting. He attended summer camps and worked relentlessly in practice. He strategically and gradually moved up poles from 14 feet to 14.5 feet to maximize his jumps.

Proffitt entered the field when it had already whittled down to four vaulters remaining on Friday at Cessna Stadium. As he did at regionals, he nailed his first attempt at 13 feet. He then cleared 13-6 on his first try to win the competition. To seal the deal, he cleared 14 feet on his second attempt.

As he was descending to the mat on that 14-foot vault, he looked up at the bar as it wobbled in place. His pole had touched the horizontal pipe. He let out a quick prayer to make sure it stayed in place.

“Jesus, stay on,” he said.

It was the fourth consecutive meet that Proffitt had cleared 14 feet, tying a personal best. Pole vault coach Jeff Haslett said Proffitt has become a consistent vaulter because his approach and plant never waver. Proffitt added that he has focused on getting inverted over the bar.

“What Tyler did is he put himself at a high level,” Boldt said.

It also was the fourth consecutive meet that Proffitt took three attempts to clear 14-6 and was unsuccessful. But, he did not need it. All year Proffitt had prepped himself for an eventual matchup with Austin Jones of Wellsville, who had cleared 14-6 early in the season. The Wellsville vaulter did not even qualify for the state meet.

Proffitt was a little disappointed that the pole vault field was not stronger. He said he has room to improve when he vaults next season at Johnson County Community College.

Yet, he said it felt good to be a state champion.

Unlucky

Opposite of the way that the field opened up for Proffitt, other Hillsboro championship hopefuls Emily Sechrist and Shaq Thiessen were unlucky.

Sechrist was the returning state champion in the 3,200-meter run. In her field was the cross-country champion Hiawatha sophomore Jordan Puvogel, who relegated Sechrist to second-place in the fall after the Hillsboro sophomore won the event her freshman year. There also was Heather Ruder, who had won the 3,200 two years earlier. In fact, Ruder had won the 800 and 1,600 too.

At regionals, Sechrist mentioned adjusting her running style and she was committed to a modification early in the 3,200. She stayed with the top pack three laps into the race, avoiding blasting out in front as is her usual strategy. She took the lead midway through with Puvogel and Ruder at her side. The next two laps, a 5-foot string could have tied the three runners together and it would not have snapped.

“Obviously those are the top three distance runners in 3A,” Boldt said.

Sechrist was preparing to kick over the final 400 meters when she was outsprinted by Puvogel and Ruder. Puvogel won the race at 11 minutes, 22.59 seconds. Sechrist bested her previous school record 11:42.36 with a time of 11:37.40. She was disappointed with the third place finish.

“She is at a different level. It’s all relative,” Boldt said. “I would worry if she wasn’t disappointed. I understand perfectly, but I’m very proud.”

Sechrist again bested her own school record in the 1,600 by almost two seconds, 5:22.02. Sechrist seemed to have third place locked up until Stutterheim caught the Hillsboro runner in the last 50 meters.

“She beat her second-place time last year, but placed fourth,” Boldt said.

Sechrist placed ninth in the 800 with a time of 2:30.17, which bested her mark in regionals.

Thiessen placed second in the long jump for the second consecutive year. The Hillsboro senior found himself in a situation where he needed to jump over 23 feet in the finals. Cheney senior Hunter Veith had jumped 23-1 on his second jump in finals. Although he jumped over 22 feet twice in prelims, 22-9.5 and 22-1.5, Thiessen could not get over 21-11.5 on his last jump of the day.

Thiessen came into the competition with the best mark, 23-7.5, which he made on his second jump in regionals. Boldt said he worried Thiessen had topped out when he did not go big on his first jumps.

Thiessen also competed in the high jump and submitted the more perplexing of his two performances. He failed to clear 6 feet, a mark he had met in every meet this season. Boldt said Thiessen was not feeling well heading into the event and started jumping at lower heights than normal.

Thiessen had been battling nagging knee injuries all season; Boldt said this also had an effect on his high jumping.

Again, placement is relative. Senior Josh Richert knew going into his only race that he was fighting for third place in the 1,600.

Richert finished third with a time of 4:38.32. He was well behind front-runners Cory Donley of Sacred Heart, 4:24.40, and Alex Conn of Beloit, but he held off a late charge from Joseph Siegele of Fredonia.

The Hillsboro runner did not even realize anyone was closing on him. He was concentrating on running his race … and a victory song in his head: “All I do is win, win, win no matter what.” Yes, T-Pain, Rick Ross, Ludacris, and DJ Khaled provided the soundtrack for Richert’s third-place finish.

Boldt said that victory was well-deserved.

“Josh ran a perfect race,” he said. “He should be very proud of what he did.”

Other results

Avery Franz —12. Triple jump, 39-0.

Marah Franz — 12. Pole vault, 8-6.

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