The bar sat 17 feet, 6 1/2 inches from the red track at Rock Chalk Park. As he calculated his move toward it, Park Hill senior Christopher Nilsen encouraged the nearby crowd to clap in unison.
Then, in one swift move, he pole vaulted himself into the air before smacking onto the mat.
The bar didn’t fall.
A 36-year-old record did.
Nilsen cleared that bar at 17 feet, 6 1/2 inches on Saturday, setting a new Kansas Relays record that had stood since 1980. He nearly did one better, too. Nilsen, who set the Missouri state-meet record last spring, only slightly clipped the bar in an attempt to clear 18 feet.
“I feel like if there wasn’t a tailwind, it might have stayed up,” Nilsen said. “But I still hit it. It might have been better if I had just cleared it cleanly.
Lee’s Summit West dominates girls relays
The break lasted less than half an hour, allowing Lee’s Summit West junior Erin Sermons only enough time to grab a drink of water and take a puff from her inhaler before returning to the track.
That was plenty.
After helping the Titans open the second day of the Kansas Relays with a victory in the sprint medley relay, Sermons anchored their win in the 800-meter relay 25 minutes later.
“I gave myself a little pep talk and said a prayer,” Sermons said. “My legs were a little dead, but I had to come back.”
Sermons ran the 400-meter leg of the medley relay, where she was joined by teammates Jana Shawver, Kyra Atkins and Sydney Bowers.
The team of Bowers, Atkins, Bryce Lang and Sermons completed the 800 in 1 minute, 43.22 seconds.
The Titans weren’t done, either. They concluded the day by winning the 1,600 relay.
Green lands two golds
Over the first six weeks of the season, Blue Valley Southwest sophomore Noah Green established himself as the top high school hurdler in Kansas.
He upped the ante Saturday.
Green bested a competitive group from across the Midwest in winning the 110-hurdles race Saturday, finishing in 14.05 seconds. Grandview senior Maliek Kendall and Blue Springs South senior Savion Cauveren were on his heels.
Green later anchored BV Southwest’s victory in the Sunflower 1,600 relay.
“I had a little bit left, but my legs are done right now,” Green said. “I want to take an ice bath and sleep.”
Blue Springs’ Hall wins long jump
In his first five long-jump attempts, Blue Springs senior Justin Hall said his legs felt drained from winning the triple jump the day before.
On his sixth and final attempt, Hall found the strength for the winning leap. He jumped 23 feet, 11 inches and won the event Saturday, besting Olathe North senior Isaiah Simmons by a quarter of an inch.
“Our coach always tells us to give it all you got on the last one, and it worked out,” Hall said. “I just let it loose.”
Smithville’s Mosby wins girls long jump
Smithville junior Trace Mosby spends most of her time in the spring playing soccer. In fact, when asked about her practice schedule for the long jump, she simply lists her competitive track meets.
She apparently doesn’t need the practice.
Mosby won the long jump on Saturday with a leap of 18 feet, 8 1/2 inches.
“It was my goal to get up there and place,” she said. “I never imagined I would get first.”