Just as Penn State came to be known as “Linebacker U” for the great football players it produced at that position, Desert Vista High School in Phoenix deserves the “Pole Vault U” designation. The school just set a mark no other in the nation has accomplished.
And, while Desert Vista has found an area of specialization, Wickenburg High School established its own school record for the accomplishments of a jack-of-all-trades named Viviana Ruiz.
Desert Vista has four girls on the pole vault team that have cleared 12 feet this year. According to Margot Kelly, who does a great job following high school track for Milesplit.com, no other school in the country has equaled that feat.
While an extraordinay accomplishment, it might be expected from a school that year-after-year turns out a large crop of pole vaulters. It averages about 35 athletes on the pole vault team. This year, 43 turned out to compete. And that, says Kelly, is the largest pole vault team in the country.
This year, the 12-foot mark was surpassed by Shaylah Simpson (13-2.25), Courtney Reginato (12-3), Heather Arseneau (12-3), and Emily Heisler (12-1). And Kylie Harmon, a junior, is knocking on the door with her best vault this season of 11-9.
Simpson, a senior, broke the Arizona state record in March at the Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston with her 13-2.25 vault. She won the state championship last year and is a favorite to repeat. In the fall, she’ll be clearing the bar for Arizona State.
Meanwhile, a little farther west, Ruiz has set a Wickenburg HS record by qualifying for the most state meet events.
Ruiz finished in first place in the 1600m run at the recent Phoenix Christian Twilight Qualifier, and that win made it five events. The other four include the 400m, 400m, 4×100 relay, and 4×400 relay.
Her season-best time of 5:36.74 in the 1600m came just in time to make the 3A West Regional Championships that begin tomorrow morning. She is also strong in the 400m, where she has posted a time of 1:03.62 earlier this season.
Ruiz is a junior, so she’ll be back next year. But Desert Vista loses five of its top seven girl pole vaulters to graduation.
So Desert Vista coach, Jeff Guy, should be concerned, right?
Naw… he’s got 12 freshmen boys and nine freshmen girls on the roster.
That’s just the way it goes at Pole Vault U.
(Photo: Margot Kelly)