After smashing a 36-year-old record at the prestigious Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Park Hill pole vaulter Christopher Nilsen analyzed his afternoon with a hint of dissatisfaction.
While his vault of 17 feet, 6 1/2 inches had put him atop the all-time leaderboard at the event, he entered the day with a goal to clear 18 feet. Fewer than 10 American high schoolers had ever done it, he explained.
And then he further upped the ante.
“But my real goal this year,” he said with a smile, “is the national record.”
The grandest of targets entered the equation during the offseason, after Nilsen had researched the marks of the best high school pole vaulters in national history.
He finished his career ranked No. 1 on that list.
Nilsen highlighted a decorated high school career at the Missouri Class 5, Sectional 4 meet in May, when he broke a national record as he cleared the bar at 18 feet, 4 3/4 inches. Statistically, he is the best American high school outdoor pole vaulter in history.
And he is The Star’s All-Metro boys track and field athlete of the year.
“Everything fell into place for me that day,” Nilsen said. “I had worked all year to hit that (number). When I did it, it just felt really great.”
Nilsen, who will attend South Dakota, capped his senior season with another Missouri Class 5 state championship the following week, his second consecutive title. He vaulted 16 feet, 9 inches to win the state event at Jefferson City High School.
The Star’s All-Metro boys track and field team
▪ First team: Jeff Hollis, Barstow, junior. It was a record-setting year for Hollis, who set school and conference marks in the high jump. He won the Missouri Class 2 title, clearing 6 feet, 9 inches.
▪ Honorable mention: Isaac Smith, Lincoln Prep, senior.
▪ First team: Christopher Nilsen, Park Hill, senior. The best pole vault in American high school history belongs to Nilsen, who surpassed the bar at 18 feet, 4 3/4 inches. He also won a second straight Missouri Class 5 state championship.
▪ Honorable mention: Kyle Rogers, Liberty, junior.
▪ First team: Isaiah Simmons, Olathe North, senior. A defending champion, Simmons finished second in this year’s Kansas Class 6A state meet, with a jump of 23 feet, 10 3/4 inches. He also won his region.
▪ Honorable mention: Tyree Sorrells, Raytown South, senior.
▪ First team: Justin Hall, Blue Springs, senior. The Texas Tech signee nearly reached 50 feet this season. After a second-place finish last spring, he won the Missouri Class 5 title with a triple jump of 48 feet, 8 1/4 inches.
▪ Honorable mention: Eric Scott, Basehor-Linwood, junior.
▪ First team: Micah Beaver, Raymore-Peculiar, senior. After winning the Missouri Class 5 200-meter dash last spring, Beaver took home the 100 dash title this season with a time of 10.65 seconds. He also won at the Kansas Relays.
▪ Honorable mention: Jon Redmond, Liberty North, junior.
▪ First team: Caulin Graves, Grandview, senior. The fastest man in Missouri Class 4 won the 100 and 200-meter dash championships, helping Grandview claim another team title. He finished the 200 in 21.35 seconds.
▪ Honorable mention: Ian McCabe, Shawnee Mission Northwest, senior.
▪ First team: Quincy Hall, Raytown South, senior. He reached the podium four times at the Missouri Class 4 state championships and won the 400-meter race in 47.19 seconds.
▪ Honorable mention: Cameron Waldo, Olathe South, junior.
▪ First team: Travis Hodge, De Soto, senior. His 800-meter finish in 1:53.06 was a Kansas Class 4A state record and was fast enough to bring home one of his two state titles. He also won the 1,600 in 4:16.34, another 4A record.
▪ Honorable mention: Jared Reinke, Olathe South, senior.
▪ First team: William Bradley-King, Hogan Prep, senior. He set the Missouri Class 3 state-meet record in the discus with a throw of 188 feet, 4 inches. He will attend Arkansas State on a football scholarship.
▪ Honorable mention: James Bailey, William Chrisman, junior.
▪ First team: Logan Blomquist, Pleasant Hill, senior. After winning the Missouri Class 4 discus championship last year, Blomquist added the shot put title this spring with a winning throw of 58 feet, 6 3/4 inches. He won both events at the Kansas Relays.
▪ Honorable mention: Dunkan Watrous, Paola, senior.
▪ First team: Parker Shirling, Shawnee Mission East, junior. Shirling placed third at the Kansas Class 6A state meet with a toss of 175 feet, 6 inches. He finished the year with regional and Sunflower League crowns.
▪ First team: Noah Green, Blue Valley Southwest, sophomore. In addition to anchoring the Kansas Class 5A state title-winning 1,600-meter relay team and winning a state title in the 300-meter hurdles, Green set two 5A state records in the 110-meter hurdles — 13.98 seconds in the state meet preliminaries, and 14.02 in the finals.
▪ First team: Savion Cauveren, Blue Springs South, senior. He swept the hurdles events at the Missouri Class 5 state meet. That included a class record in the 300-meter hurdles, which he finished in 37.41 seconds.
▪ Honorable mention: Jacoby Greenwood, Osawatomie, senior.
▪ First team: Ethan Donley, Lawrence Free State, senior. The two-time Kansas Class 6A state champion in the 800-meter run also added a title in the 1,600-meter distance this year. Donley finished in 4 minutes, 15.64 seconds.
▪ Honorable mention: Clayton Adams, Kearney, junior.
▪ First team: Belesti Akalu, Shawnee Mission North, senior. With a cross country state championship already achieved, Akalu finished out his senior year with a Kansas Class 6A state title in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9 minutes, 21.06 seconds. He was also on the winning 3,200 relay team.
▪ Honorable mention: Dylan Brenneman, Spring Hill, junior.
▪ First team: Liberty North. In one of the tightest finishes at the Missouri Class 5 state meet, the Eagles won in 41.88 seconds, using a team of senior Anthony Taylor, senior Tyler Lamport, junior Darrious Taylor and junior Jon Redmond.
▪ First team: Raytown South. The Cardinals dominated the relay, with a team of senior Tyree Sorrells, senior Quincy Hall, senior Jabril Cox and sophomore Vontrae Booker crossing the line in 1 minute, 26.76 seconds.
▪ First team: Olathe South. With a time of 3:18.13, the Kansas Class 6A state champions — a team of sophomore Emmanuel Okwuone, junior Robert Adger, senior Jared Reinke and junior Cameron Waldo — ran the fastest time in Kansas this year.
▪ First team: Shawnee Mission North. A team of senior Belesti Akalu, junior Carter Jacobson, senior Adam Dujakovick and senior Noah Stevenson won a Kansas Class 6A state title in 7:57.64.