Last week, Clovis West senior Elizabeth Funk put lifted herself high up into the pole vault record books with a 13-foot, 9-inche clearance that equals the No. 3 all-time mark in California high school history.
Last Thursday at Clovis East High in a league final, Funk became the 29th girl in U.S. high school history to vault at least 13-9.
Funk's clearance is the latest in a season where we have seen the U.S. record broken by Seattle West High's Chloe Cunliffe -- 14-8 at the Arcadia Invitational -- and two other girls nationally join the 14-foot club.
In California, the depth of 13-foot clearances is at an all-time high.
Over the last decade, 26 girls have cleared at least 13 feet, with 14 of those coming in the last four years and seven of those in 2019.
Only 46 girls have cleared at least 13-0 in state history.
Seven in one season surpasses the previous seasonal high of five in 2007. Before that year, only 12 girls had cleared 13 feet in state history.
To clarify, California history in girls pole vault is hardly a dusty yellowed hardback buried on a forgotten bookshelf. The first CIF State Final in girls pole vault was held in 1995!! The winning clearance that year was 12-6, the same height that that won the State title in ... 2018!
While that may seem counter to the point of this article outlining the depth of progress in the event, it does serve to highlight the outliers and pioneers in prep girls vaulting in CA.
The first State Meet champion was Melissa Price of Kingsburg, whose championship height won gold but fell short of her 1995 PR of 13-1.75.
The evolution of 13-foot clearances continued when Tracy O'Hara (Rancho Bernardo) went over 13-3 in 1998. Shayla Balentine (Morro Bay) scaled 13-8 in 2001 and Kira Costa (San Joaquin Memorial) was clean over 13-8.50 in 2003.
Tori Anthony (Castilleja) became the first high school girl to pole vault higher than 14 feet when she cleared 14-1 at the 2007 CIF-State Meet. Anthony held the national record until 2011 and the California record until 2016 when Rachel Baxter (Anaheim Canyon) cleared 14-2.
Baxter would top at least 14 feet five times, including the current CA record of 14-5.50, which now -- thanks to Cunliffe -- ranks U.S. No. 4 all-time.
On California's all-time list, Funk's 13-9 jumped over both Balentine and Costa to equal the PRs of Kaitlyn Merritt (Santa Margarita) in 2014 and Erika Malaspina (Pacific Collegiate) in 2016.
While Funk (pictured) is the current CA headliner, she has had quite a bit of company pushing the envelope this season.
Rancho Bernardo's Ashley Callahan and Westlake's Paige Sommers -- both sophomores -- have cleared 13-6, equal to CA No. 10 all-time. Poway's Camryn Thomson has cleared 13-3, equal to CA No. 20AT, and Presentation's Isabella Grant has cleared 13-1, equal to No. 27AT.
While she hasn't quite gotten that high yet this spring, defending CIF-State Meet champion Laurel Wong of Santa Catalina has a personal best of 13-4 from the Golden West Invitational last June that equals CA No. 18.
Sommers is the top-ranked vaulter in the nearly 600-school CIF-Southern Section heading into Saturday's all-division finals at El Camino College in Torrance where she will compete in Division 2. Funk is the top vaulter in the Central Section, which holds area regionals this week. Callahan and Thomson, who compete in the same league, will see each other once again this week at the San Diego Section Trials. Grant and Wong compete in the Central Coast Section.
The other 13-foot vaulters this season -- both at 13-0 -- are Thomson's teammate at Poway, Katerina Adamiec, and Aliso Niguel's Morgan Flynn. Flynn competes in CIF-SS Division 1.