PIQUA — Competing at the Division I district championships is intimidating enough for most freshman pole vaulters. Now try doing it on a pole you’ve never used in practice, let alone in competition.
That was the challenge facing Sidney’s Braden Guinther at Piqua High School on Wednesday. Guinther’s own pole — a 14-footer rated for 145 pounds — wasn’t going to help him get the height needed to advance to next week’s regional meet.
Sidney pole vault coach Alan Egbert asked other coaches for help and found it — from rival Piqua. The Indians let Guinther borrow their 14-foot, 155-pound pole. That proved the difference as Guinther finished third with a personal best vault of 12 feet, 4 inches. He entered the meet tied as the seventh-seeded vaulter at 11-06.
“I knew he was going to be fighting for fourth the way he was practicing,” Egbert said. “But on paper — what his personal record was — he would have to do his best vault and he kind of did.
“He had the desire to keep vaulting. He has the desire to get on the pole, get vertical, get slinged up there as high as he can and come back down. … Sometimes you can’t train that. That’s something you gotta have. He has a desire to vault.”
Butler sophomore Dalton Shepler and Greenville senior Ryan Trick tied for first at 13-8, with Shepler winning the tie-breaker.
Guinther entered the competition at 11-0 and cleared it on his second attempt. He needed two tries to clear 11-6 before setting a personal best at 12-0 on his first attempt. He made 12-04 on his third and final attempt.
“It wasn’t that tough (using the new pole),” Guinther said. “My 145 pole was a little weak so the 155 got me over the mark. It showed good sportsmanship.”
Guinther competes in the Division I regional championship Wednesday at Wayne High School. The top four finishers advance to the state track and field championships June 2 in Columbus.
Guinther’s goal at regional is to vault 13-0. That might not get him to Columbus – fourth place vaulted 14-04 at regional last year – but it’ll help him carry some momentum into next season. The school record, for reference, is 14-06.
“He needs to pull off a 13-foot vault, which he’s capable of,” Egbert said. “With his new pole that Piqua loaned us I’m thinking he can pull off a 13 at regionals. It might not do much at regionals, but that would be a phenomenal jump for us. He’ll PR again. If he goes to regionals and PRs … that’s setting him up for next year.”
“I want to place at regionals,” Guinther said. “Everybody has their bad meets and everybody has their good meets. If I don’t do good at regionals that’s okay. It’s only my freshman year.
Sidney junior Josiah Hudgins finished fifth in the long jump on Wednesday with a leap of 19-11.25, missing qualifying for regional by 6.75 inches.
Sidney junior Emma Wiford finished fifth in the shot put with a throw of 33-03 feet, 6.5 inches away from a regional spot.
The district meet resumes Friday at Piqua’s Alexander Stadium with remaining field events at 5 p.m. and running finals at 6:30 p.m.