State track: For Boise senior, pole vault win not enough. He did something ‘extra sweet’
The track went silent save for the rhythmic clapping of fans as Seth Nelson sprinted down the runway.
“Push!” shouted Boise pole vault coach Asa Nims.
And just like that, a new state record was born.
Nelson won the 5A boys pole vault at the state track and field championships Friday for the second year in a row. He broke the overall meet record twice at Mountain View High School, first at 16 feet, 6 1/4 inches, then again at 16-8.
“Just to feel all the support is so much fun,” Nelson said. “And then finally making it over that bar, just that falling moment. It’s just the greatest. It’s so much fun. When you see the bar stay up there, it’s hard to re-create.”
Nelson broke the 20-year-old state record of 16-6 set by Eagle’s Donovan Kilmartin, who went on to be a heptathlete at Texas.
“It’s a super big deal,” Nims said. “This is my last year of coaching high school, so to have that happen on my last year was pretty sweet. And then for him, as the athlete, it’s extra sweet.”
With just two vaulters left at 15-0, Nelson easily cleared the height, shaking off his final competitor in second-place, Brady Abbott of Rocky Mountain. He then cleared 15-9 on his first attempt, setting up a his record attempt at 16-6 1/4.
After missing his first two attempts at the record height, Nelson made it over on his third and final chance, to the delight of the crowd that had gathered in hopes of witnessing history.
Nelson smiled and joked with friends throughout the competition, showing no sign of the nerves he may have been feeling beneath the surface.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever coached as humble of a kid,” Nims said. “... You’re out here to do a job. It’s not your job to make yourself look extra special. Let the height be the guide and the show that you’re putting on. For him, that’s entirely how he runs everything. As you can tell, he’s not bragging about it. He’s just super happy.”
Nelson, who will compete for Washington State this fall, has a background in gymnastics, which translates well to pole vault.
“Gymnastics became too time consuming, so then we just kind of looked around for something else,” Nelson said. “I’m not the biggest runner. I’m not gonna lie, so just finding something I could fly through the air just like gymnastics was pretty cool.”
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out Nelson’s freshman year of track competition. He placed third at the state meet as a sophomore and has since won back-to-back titles in just his fourth season in the sport.
“It means a lot,” Nelson said of breaking the state record. “I’m just happy to be here and happy that I got it over the bar.”
MORE RECORD BREAKERS
Nelson wasn’t the only athlete to put his name in the record book Friday. A pair of 4A 100-meter runners got the pressure out of the way early with record runs in the prelims. And 4A runners added record performances in the 200 prelims as well.
▪ Two-timing defending state champion Claire Petersen, of Skyline, impressed in the second heat of the 4A girls 100, clocking a time of 12.01 seconds to eek past the previous overall record of 12.02 set by Capital’s Megan Rose in 2021.
▪ Four-star football prospect Gatlin Bair, of Burley, was well in front just steps out of the blocks in the second heat of the 4A boys 100. Bair, a junior who has offers from the likes of Georgia, Alabama and Boise State, blasted across the finish line in 10.15 seconds to best the previous overall record of 10.34 set by former Boise State receiver Dallas Burroughs while running for Rocky Mountain in 2011.
About an hour or so later, Bair established the overall record in the 200 prelims, crossing the finish line in 20.41 to best another Burroughs record (21.06). Both Bair’s 100 and 200 times are among the fastest in the nation this season.
▪ Century junior Matejah Mangum had the fastest time among 4A girls in the 200 prelims, winning her heat in 24.68. She broke the record of Cole Valley Christian’s Brooke Weimer, 24.74, set in 2019.
ROCKY JUNIOR GETS REDEMPTION
Landon Heemeyer didn’t tempt fate again.
A week after being disqualified at the district meet for holding teammate Tyler Sainsbury’s hand as they crossed the final line, Heemeyer ran away with the 5A boys 3,200-meter title Friday morning.
The Rocky Mountain High junior and reigning state cross county champion crossed the finish line in 9 minutes, 10.76 seconds.
“I’m glad I got to do it again and really make it count,” said Heemeyer, who had to win an appeal to be included the state field along with Sainsbury, who finished second.
Rocky Mountain, which has won 10 of the last 11 state team titles, had four runners finish in the top eight of the race, amassing 23 points as the Grizzlies trailed Boise 51-50 for the overall points lead after Day 1.
Here are the other Treasure Valley winners from the first day of state competition at the 5A/4A meet:
▪ Bishop Kelly junior Rakeem Johnson won the 4A boys discus title by more than 7 feet. Johnson tossed a 175-5 to win the event after a seventh-place finish a year ago. He will try to add to his medal haul in the shot put Saturday morning.
▪ Boise junior Autumn Shomaker was the only 5A girls long jumper to surpass 18 feet, winning with a leap of 18-6 3/4.
▪ Alex Lowe, of Timberline, won the 5A boys high jump on a tiebreaker after he and second-place Jordan McDonald, of Boise, each cleared 6-4.
▪ For the third year in a row, Bishop Kelly’s Cole Miller won the 4A boys triple jump. Miller, a senior, went a distance of 46-2 to edge Ridgevue’s Caleb Washington (45-9 1/4).
▪ After finishing third a year ago, Meridian senior Tyson Acree moved up to the top of the podium in the 5A boys long jump in 2023. Acree recorded a mark of 22-10 1/4.
Emmett senior Tatum Richards will finish as a three-time state champion in the 4A girls pole vault. Tatum, who set the class record last season at 13-0, cleared 11-6 to win this year’s event.
▪ Boise’s 5A girls 4 x 800 relay of Lydia Nance, Audrey Orme, Alex Terry and Allie Bruce won in a season-best 9:15.21.
▪ Sam Jensen, Cole Reed, Landon Heemeyer and Tyler Sainsbury teamed up to win the 5A boys 4 x 800 relay in a season-best 7:48.22.
▪ Bishop Kelly’s Saul Lorenzana, Zach Jacobs, Sebastian Kou and Kevin Corrigan were within a few tenths of the overall state meet record in the 4A boys medley relay, winning in a time of 3:30.85. The record is 3:30.25 by Moscow in 2014.