CIF-STATE MEET PREVIEW Closer Look at the Pole Vault


Scripps Ranch (SD) senior Lexi Evans is one of two girls entering this weekend's competition to have cleared 14 feet this season. (James Huenink photo)

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While no one is expected to be a national record-holder like Westlake's Paige Sommers was last year when she cleared 14-9 or have already cleared 17-feet like La Costa Canyon's Garrett Brown did in 2021 topping 17-2, this should still be an exciting event.

The girls will have a head-to-head battle between Scripps Ranch senior Lexi Evans and Dublin sophomore Jathiyah Muhammad, both of whom have cleared 14 feet.  And the boys have five vaulters who have cleared 16 feet with Eastlake Roosevelt senior Hunter O'Brien a solid favorite.

The depth of girls pole vault in SoCal is evident by 13 of the 26 qualifiers being from either the San Diego Section (7) or Southern Section (6). (Click the link to read more about that.)


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State Meet Record: 14-02 (Rachel Baxter, Anaheim Canyon (SS), 2016)

Lexi Evans (Scripps Ranch/SD), Sr. - The most consistent of the top vaulters having cleared 13-feet 11 times this season. Her top mark came last week in the San Diego Section championships when she hit 14-feet for the first time.  She cleared by plenty and had one good attempt at 14-2. She finished fourth at Arcadia in 13-4, one spot ahead of Jathiyah Muhammad.

Jathiyah Muhammad (Dublin/NC), So. - The state's other 14-footer after last week, this should be quite a battle. Despite being a 10th-grader, she has been over 13-feet eight times and went 13-8 in the EBAL championships.

Allison Leigh (Del Norte/SD), Sr. - This is the vaulter the others must respect. A year ago she cleared 14-feet and just missed 14-3. Her best this year is 13-7 at the Bronco Invitational to start the season but she was the first Californian at Arcadia, placing third in 13-4. She went 12-9 at the San Diego Section championships to place second to Evans.

Alison Sahaida (Oak Ridge/SJ), Sr. - She posted her best of 13-9 in a dual meet on April 27 and won the Sac-Joaquin Section at 13-2. She's been over 13 feet three times this season.

Lily Mulligan (Maria Carrillo/NC), Jr. - The North Coast Section runner-up to Muhammad cleared 13-2.50 at the Redwood Empire Finals in early May and has two meets with 13-plus clearances this season and three in her career.

Evangeline Thomson (Poway/SD), Jr., and Aspen Fears (Vista Murrieta/SS), So., - Both are 13-3 vaulters and Fears is coming off capturing the Southern Section Division 1 and Masters titles. Thomson was third in the San Diego Section championships at 12-3. Both should benefit from the warmer weather.

Madisyn Negro (Murrieta Valley/SS), Jr., Rose Wagner (Fallbrook/SD), Sr., and Jordan Leveque (Buchanan/CS), Jr., are among the 10 girls in CA who have cleared at least 13 feet this season.

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State Meet Record: 17-10 (Sondre Guttormsen, Davis (SJ), 2018)

Hunter O'Brien (Roosevelt (SS), Sr. - He's almost as big a favorite as La Costa Canyon's Garrett Brown (17-2) was a year ago. O'Brien has soared over 16 five times including wins at big-time meets like Arcadia (16-9), Redondo (16-8) and the Southern Section Masters meet last weekend at 16-5.

Justin Vigna (Bellarmine College Prep/SJ), Sr. - Although his 16-6 PR in a dual meet versus Presentation certainly makes him a challenger, the fact is he has only that one super effort and comes in having finished second in the Central Coast championships at 13-6. That 16-6 is the only time he has surpassed 14 feet.

Hilton Green (Buchanan/CS), Jr. - With a best of 16-5 in the T.R.A.C. League championships, Green will certainly have a huge following in Veteran's Stadium. He's been over 15 feet five times, including a 16-1 at the Reedley Invitational.  He won the Central Section at 15-11.

Gavin Hanes (Ramona/SS), Sr. - Has a best of 16-3 in the Southern Section Division 2 Championships and soared over 16-2 at the Mt. SAC Relays. He cleared 15-5 in the Southern Section Masters meet to finish fourth.

Ian Strode (Turlock/SJ), Sr. - Kind of up and down-pun intended. He has a best of 16-1 in the CCAL championships but was only fourth in the Sac-Joaquin Section championships at 14-11. But, he has been over 15 feet 11 times, including going 15-3 to finish fourth at Arcadia. He is joined by sophomore teammate Max McFarlane who has a best of 15-6.

Jake Reed (Oaks Christian/SS), Sr., and Tiger Bachmeier (Murrieta Valley/SS), Jr. - Although both did not have their best days at the Masters meet clearing 14-11, they have bests of 15-9 and will have nothing to lose.

Khaliq Muhammad (Dublin/NC), and Logan Meredith (Orland/NS) are two of the top freshmen vaulters in the country. Muhammad, whose sister is 14-foot vaulter Jathiyah Muhammad, has cleared 15-7 (U.S. No. 1 in the Class of 2025), and Meredith, the Northern Section champion, has gone 14-1 (U.S. No. 4 in the freshman class).


Steve Brand is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by Jennifer Koziel, Daniel Hernandez and James Huenink