Aurora’s pole vault “family” did very well for itself at the state track meet.
Regis Jesuit junior Jordan Hatfield won the state championship on the boys side and city athletes earned six places among the Class 5A boys and girls pole vault events at Jefferson County Stadium.
More than half the 5A boys medal stand was filled with Aurora athletes in Hatfield, Cherokee Trail’s Harley Korte and Mitchell Waltz, Smoky Hill’s Tesfai Holt and Grandview’s Steven Clopine.
The state meet culminated a season that saw abundant new heights reached by a group of athletes who share a common tie — working with Aurora Central graduate Pat Manson, who’s held the state record for nearly 30 years, and his Boulder-based Above the Bar pole vault club.
Hatfield’s progress has been remarkable, as he crested at 13 feet, 6 inches, in placing sixth at last season’s state meet, but a year later uncorked a 16-foot jump at the Continental League Championships and capped his season with the 5A state title May 16 at Jefferson County Stadium.
“I can’t even describe it, I’m really happy with how the season turned out,” said Hatfield, whose state-winning jump was 15 feet.
“I’m not over the moon about today, but I made every one of my goals. I broke the school record, I made 16 feet and I’m the 5A state champion, so I couldn’t ask for more. I really couldn’t.”
Hatfield became Aurora’s first pole vault state champion since Smoky Hill’s Chase Cooper won the second of two in a row in 2009 and finished off a season that began with a jump of 14-6 that won the Aurora City Championship meet.
A short time later, on April 6 at the Mountain Range Track Invitational, Hatfield cleared 15-8 to shatter the previous Regis Jesuit record that had stood for 43 years. Jimmy Kliegler cleared 15-3 on his way to a state championship in 1970.
Manson’s taken notice of Hatfield’s progress and said he wouldn’t be surprised if he’s jumping 17 feet next year and possibly eyeing Manson’s two existing records from 1986: the state meet record of 17-3 and the Colorado prep record of 17-7 1/2.
“Pole vaulting is a really technical event and Jordan’s figuring it out,” Manson said. “He has all the tools: he’s tall and strong and fast. Those tall kids have those long levers, so when his strength catches up with his long arms, he’ll still get better. Every kid grows differently, so we’ll see how he matures.”
Hatfield plans to work with Manson as much as he can over the summer in between national meets so he can be at or near 17 feet to open his senior season.
“I’m going to have some fun with it,” he said. “I know there’s a 17-plus jump out there next year, so I’m going to put in the time for it.”
Aurora’s bumper crop of pole vaulters also includes Korte, a multi-sport athlete who also trains with Above the Bar. He made huge progress on the wrestling mat in the winter, as he placed sixth at 152 pounds at the 5A state tournament at Pepsi Center and made a similar rise in the pole vault.
With Waltz — who placed ninth last season — pushing him in practice and at meets, Korte inched higher and higher. His last two weeks were his best, as he set the Cherokee Trail school record at consecutive meets with a 14-1 at the Centennial League Championships and then 14-6 at state.
Korte plans to wrestle in the mornings and pole vault in the afternoons all summer with an eye toward next season, when the competition should be even better.
“Next year’s going to be great, everybody’s going to be jumping 15 feet or higher, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Korte said.
Waltz and Clopine, who each had a best jump of 13-6 at state, graduate, but Holt — who won the Centennial League championship with a jump of 14-7 and is coached by former state champion Kirk Cooper of Smoky Hill — should be back next year.
Grandview’s Anna Loken — who also gets some coaching at Above the Bar — set a personal best of 11-8 at state, good enough for second in 5A girls pole vault. Loken, who moved up from ninth last season, is headed to Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555
AURORA CLASS 5A STATE POLE VAULT PLACERS SINCE 2006
2013: Boys — Jordan Hatfield (Regis Jesuit), state champion, 15 feet; Harley Korte (Cherokee Trail), 2nd place, 14 feet, 6 inches; Tesfai Holt (Smoky Hill), 5th place, 14 feet; Mitchell Waltz (Cherokee Trail), T7th place, 13-6 inches; Steven Clopine (Grandview), 9th place. 13 feet, 6 inches; Girls — Anna Loken (Grandview), 2nd place, 11 feet, 8 inches
2012: Boys — Jordan Hatfield (Regis Jesuit), 6th place, 13 feet, 6 inches; Mitchell Waltz (Cherokee Trail), 9th, 13 feet; Girls — Anna Loken (Grandview), T9th place, 10 feet
2010-2011: No placers
2009: Boys — Chase Cooper (Smoky Hill), state champion, 17 feet; Girls — Cassie Fambrough (Smoky Hill), 9 feet, 6 inches
2008: Boys — Chase Cooper (Smoky Hill), state champion, 16 feet, 7 inches
2007: Boys — Chase Cooper (Smoky Hill), 2nd place, 15 feet, 6 inches
2006: Boys — Kirk Cooper (Smoky Hill), state champion, 16 feet; Chase Cooper (Smoky Hill), 7th, 13 feet, 6 inches; Girls — Hollee Pentico (Smoky Hill), 6th, 10 feet