Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
The pole vault was like the Energizer Bunny. It just kept going and going and going.
When all the other events at the Medford Rotary Relays were finished, it went on.
As teams that didn't have vaulters still competing filed out of North Medford's Bowerman Field Saturday, it went on.
As the awards tent was broken down and put away, it went on.
Finally, and with remaining athletes from all the other events lining the runway, North Medford's L.T. Hoak and Ashland's Brandon Vaughan culminated their battle as the darkened sky dropped rain and a chilly breeze picked up.
Both cleared 13 feet to tie for first, and Hoak's effort provided enough points to nudge the Black Tornado ahead of Grants Pass for the boys championship of the long-running, 13-school meet.
"It was a lot of fun," said Hoak, a senior, who matched his personal best, which was set at the district meet last year. "Not often do people come over and watch the pole vault. It was fun to have a big audience."
North Medford scored 72.91 points in the non-traditional meet, edging Grants Pass, which tallied 71.43 points.
In the girls meet, winner Grants Pass scored 74.90 points to outdistance runner-up South Medford, which had 48.98.
Athletes of the meet were Grants Pass' Zac Hannan for the boys and North Medford's Halley Folsom for the girls.
Folsom, a sophomore, won three events and broke her own meet record in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles. She also won the best-athlete award last year.
It was the 58th running of the meet, which debuted in 1939, operated for 50 years, then was shuttered until re-emerging in 2006.
All but three events — the mile, IM hurdles and freshman 100 — are scored as relays when computing team points.
And team points were what Hoak was after in the pole vault. He had been told by Black Tornado coach Piet Voskes that the boys title was riding on his performance.
Hoak allowed that it put pressure on him, but, he said, "As far as my mindset, it didn't affect me too much. It was kind of fun to know it was going to come down to me and how it would influence our score in the relay. For the most part, I just had fun with it."
Vaughan, a senior, enjoyed a bit of good fortune as he set a PR by 11/2 feet. On his third and final attempt at 12-6, he cleared the bar and plummeted into the pit, only to see his pole fall into the bar. However, it didn't hit hard enough to dislodge it from its perch.
Vaughan then made 13-0 on his first try.
North Medford's only other wins came in the 4x200 relay and the distance medley relay.
"The distance medley showed some patience because they were behind coming through," said Voskes, noting its time of 10 minutes, 48 seconds was the second fastest in meet history. "They handled it well."
The 4x200 was a surprise, he said, because the team was put together at the last minute, then ran 1:32.27.
"(Third leg) Michael Wilkins is a kid who just kind of showed up who's got some speed," said Voskes.
Among the other boy winners were the South Medford 4x800 relay, which clocked 8:27.00 to win by more than 15 seconds, and Cascade Christian's Levi Girardot, who triple-jumped 42-3.
Folsom ran the third-fastest time in the state in the 300 hurdles, clocking 46.33 seconds. It bettered her meet record of 46.99 of 2012.
"It was a fun race," she said. "I went straight from the high jump back to the hurdles and was excited to run it. I had the record and I wanted to break it again. I had already run faster (than the record) at Grants Pass, so I was hoping I would get it again."
She accomplished her desire to get into the low 46s. Ultimately, her goal is to get in the 44s, where she peaked last season.
Folsom also captured the high jump at 5-0, sharing first with another sophomore, Grants Pass' Skylie Brummett, and claimed the triple jump by a half-foot with a mark of 34-103/4.
There were nine meet records set, including eight on the girls side. Grants Pass' girls established three standards in sprint relays, and North Medford's Emily Carlson (long jump) and Hidden Valley's Sierra Brown (mile) set individual records.
Carlson missed all of last year with a broken foot, but could end up threatening the school record in this, her senior year. She sailed 16-61/2 Saturday, bettering the meet record by 2 inches set in 2006 by Ashland's Jordan Kling.
The school record is 17 feet.
"She's refocused and re-energized and has a good future in the long jump," said Voskes. "She's got some talent."
So, too, does South Medford's Emily Lemons. She challenged Folsom for the top-athlete award and was a big reason the Panthers placed second.
The sophomore was on the winning shuttle relay team, placed second to Folsom in the 300 hurdles, was on the fourth-place 4x400 unit and the sixth-place 4x100 team.
"The way we add these (relays) up," said South Medford coach Mark Losinski, "maybe we don't have the super studs, but we do have some quality kids when you add up the distance races and the jumps. We don't have many girls, but we do have some good ones."
Phoenix won a pair of running relays, taking the 4x800 and the distance medley.
Cascade Christian's Michelle Kinney won the discus with a heave of 109-2, and St. Mary's teammates Hannah Graunke and Mia Harrie each cleared 9-6 to tie for first in the pole vault.
Medford Rotary Relay Results