Norwegian pole vault star Sondre Guttormsen cleared for CIF competition at Davis

Sondre Guttormsen, a Norwegian national who set his country's junior national record in the pole vault last weekend, will be able to compete at Davis High this spring, school officials confirmed Tuesday. 

Guttormsen was initially reported ineligible for CIF competition because of transfer rules barring eligibility of foreign nationals not part of a foreign exchange program. However, after further examination of the uniqueness of the situation, the CIF-Sac Joaquin Section cleared Sondre, a senior, and his younger brother Simen, also a senior, for competition when the spring season gets underway in late February. 

"Both students have been approved by the CIF section office," Davis AD Jeff Lorenson confirmed Tuesday by text. 

Atle Guttormsen, the boys' father, confirmed that the family received notice of eligibility in November.

Sondre Guttormsen (right), a UCLA-signee, cleared 18-feet at the National Pole Vault Summit last weekend in Reno. The clearance won the high school boys division of the meet.

Sondre joined Mondo Duplantis as the only high school vaulters to clear 18-feet. (Duplantis, an LSU commit, won the Elite Men's division in Reno, eclipsing 19 feet for the third time in his career.)

The Vault Summit was far from the only meet on Sondre's schedule this winter.

"I will probably go to Simplot Games, and definitely New Balance Nationals in NY," he wrote via Twitter Direct Message.

Don't sleep on his brother Simen, who turns 17 on Friday but is in the same grade as Sondre because he started school early, their father said. Simen cleared 15-6 in Reno, the third best mark among CA high school vaulters at the Summit.
"Neither Sondre nor Simen are extreme talent," their father wrote, "but they workout harder and better than most kids. (10 sessions a week)."

Sondre (right) was born in Davis while his father was working on an economics PhD at UC Davis before returning to their home in Ski, Norwary. The family returned to Davis for a short time while Sondre was in elementary school and Atle was on sabbatical. They subsequently returned to Norway only to return again in August.

Atle is a professor of economics and business at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. The Guttormsen family includes his wife Kristin, the two high school-aged boys, and two younger children, Sara, 12, and Sebastian, 10.

Atle Guttormsen said he was tenured in 2003 and gets a sabbatical every seven years. 

"It is two reasons to come to Davis," he wrote in a social media interview. "It is first and foremost because of my job (my university in Norway would not let me go here unless the department and university was a good fit for me). And Davis is a great place for families.

"In addition, I like summer much more than winter."

In the fall, The Davis Enterprise published a comprehensive report on the family's return to Davis and the challenges of eligibility.

From that story:

According to CIF bylaws, in the case of a foreign student who's not a part of a foreign exchange program, that athlete is ineligible to compete in any organized sport that the student participated in at their previous country for 12 months from their day of transfer.

Will DeBoard, assistant commissioner of the Sac-Joaquin Section, says this particular situation is unique.

"All of our transfer laws come from the state office," DeBoard says. "It's sort of like the federal government setup in the sense that there are federal laws and state laws and for us there are state laws and section laws. As far as transfer rules, these are all state laws - rules that every section must follow."

DeBoard says there is no appeal process the Guttormsens can utilize, however, certain circumstances would make things different.

On Tuesday, speaking with MileSplitCA, DeBoard said he was prohibited from confirming eligibility and speaking about a specific athlete. He did say that the uniqueness of this case was not clearly defined by any singular bylaw and warranted additional examination.

"We took a closer look at it," he said. "Every single transfer that comes through, we check them out. This one needed the extra magnifying glass."