HENRIETTA – No matter how you spell it — POOL vault, or POLE vault — Hilton High School’s girls do it with the grace and style of gymnasts.
Submerged or airborne.
Sweeping the pole vault 1, 2, 3, 4, at Saturday’s indoor track Meet of Champions at RIT, senior leader Zoe Camillaci and her teammates say they follow the same form in their school pool in what has become Section V’s pre-eminent vaulting program.
“We push off with a pole from the bottom, 12 feet down,” Camillaci said, “drive straight up and over a floating PVC pipe. It’s a great workout, and great fun.”
Their fun in RIT’s Gordon Field House, at the qualifying meet for the state championships next Saturday at Cornell University, was equally impressive. Camillaci, a former gymnast, cleared 11 feet, 6 inches, just 3 inches below her personal best indoors, while sophomore Earnie Burapan (11-3¼) and junior Taylor Haude (10-6) also qualified. Cross country runner Sarah Pirnie was fourth (10-0).
It was a dominant highlight on a night that included individual double triumphs by Rush-Henrietta sophomore Sammy Watson (300 and 1,000), teammate Lanae-Tava Thomas (55 and long jump), Greece Odyssey senior Calvary Rogers (300 and 600) and a nostalgic moment from the past. Three-thousand-meter record-holder Stacey Prey Barkstrom’s daughter, Elyse, was second in the 600, qualifying for states.
“I had a 12 written on my hand,” said Camillaci, an All-Greater Rochester outdoor season vaulter as a junior who’ll be heading for her fifth state meet. “I tried 11-10, but my hip just caught the bar and I missed it.”
Burapan, still competing as a varsity gymnast, said the two disciplines complement each other.
“It’s all about arm and upper body strength and motion.”
Hilton coach Mike Potter credits techniques applied by SUNY Brockport vaulting coach Andy Fetzner as going a long way toward establishing his team’s success.
“He’s the man with the plan,” Potter said. “He uses a lot of creativity in his approach. The kids learn, and teach each other.”
“We’re so close,” Camillaci said. “We all work together on the mental approach, and we have a lot of fun with it. We also do a lot of things in our free time … sleepovers are big!”
A rare false start, by junior substitute lead runner Sasha Fowler, disqualified Rush-Henretta’s 1,600-meter relay team in a preliminary heat, the meet’s second event.
Fowler stepped over the start line just a split second before starter Tom Smart’s gun went off, derailing, at least until nationals at the Armory, a shot at lowering the team’s Section V-best 3:57.83 and a crack at the sectional record of 3:55.89 by Wilson Magnet in 2009.
Coach Mike DeMay said he entered a secondary foursome, assuming they would finish at least first or second to qualify. None of the four on his group that ranks 7th in the state ran it.
It left the final open for Hilton to win the final in a photo finish as Jenny Coleman fell across the finish line.
McQuaid senior Nick Ciolkowski had no trouble with the 3,200, breezing to first in 9:22.64 after his double distance sweep in the A sectionals a week ago. He, Pittsford Mendon senior Isaac Goodman (9:37.78) and Brighton sophomore Paul Dellinger (9:40.96) will all go to the state meet, the first time in more than 10 years the Rochester area has sent three distance runners to Ithaca.
Jim Castor, retired assistant sports editor of the Democrat and Chronicle, has covered high school sports in the Rochester area for more than four decades. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.