By David Fong
Miami Valley Sunday News
COLUMBUS — Blaine Brokschmidt woke up Friday morning feeling tired, sore and bound by the confines of gravity.
By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, the Miami East High School senior was feeling no pain, having soared to a Division II state championship in the pole vault at the Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“This morning was awful,” Brokschmidt said moments after the gold medal had been placed around his neck. “I woke up not feeling well, and throughout the day I woke up more and more. The pole felt comfortable in my hands finally, and I felt good jumping off the ground — and I just popped a big one when it counted.”
Brokschmidt looked sluggish early, coming in at 14-2 and skimming the bar on his first attempt, then missing his first attempt at at 14-6 before clearing it. That had him in sixth place going into 14-10. He missed on his first attempt at 14-10 but cleared that height with room to spare on his second attempt. That second vault at 14-10 would give him the momentum he needed on his next two attempts.
“About halfway through the meet I was sitting about sixth and I was like, ‘There’s just no way.’ And then I popped that big one and I just went on from there,” he said. “It just clicked and from there I got the feel of it.”
From there, he cleared 15-2 on his first attempt, moving Brokschmidt into first place ahead of Liberty Union’s Jimmy Rhoads, who cleared the height on his third attempt. Brokschmidt would wrap up the state championship when he cleared his first attempt at 15-6, while Rhoads was unable to clear that height.
It’s been an incredible journey to a state championship for Brokschmidt, who took up the pole vault in junior high school as a way to get out of running around the track.
“It was seventh grade and there were about two weeks left (in the season) and I got sick and tired of running, so I went up to my coaches; I saw the pole vaulters doing drills and since they never had to run workouts, I said, ‘Hey, can I try pole vault?’ They were like, ‘Sure,’ and it just kind of took off from there.”
Brokschmidt would vault nearly year-round the next four years, placing eighth in the state in Division III as a sophomore and fourth in Division II last spring. Last year, he placed fourth by clearing 14-2 — his opening height Friday.
“It was definitely a process,” Brokschmidt said. “You’ve got to work out all the kinks and I finally got it to where I needed it to be right at the exact right time … it just happened.”
And now, Brokschmidt will forever be etched in Viking lore, becoming just the fourth track and field state champion in school history.
“It’s definitely an honor,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to compete for any other school. They get you what you need if you need it. They’re just one of the biggest supporters of any sports team that they have. It’s just an honor to jump and compete for a school like that.
“There’s too many coaches to name, but (vaulting coach) Roger (Bowen) is like a grandpa to me. I wouldn’t want any other coach. And ‘Stan’ (head coach Steve Karnehm) working with my sprinting and getting my form right … just name it and he’s there for me. I want to thank everybody.”
All of which left Brokschmidt feeling one way at the end of the meet.
“On top of the world,” he said.
Which sure beat the way he started the day.
Hawkins advances to finals
Gabrielle Hawkins was in the blocks, getting ready to run her heat of the 400 prelims Friday afternoon.
Nearly four hours later, she got that chance.
Just before Hawkins could run Friday, lightning was spotted in the area, which set off a series of delays that began at 3:12 p.m. and didn’t get Hawkins back on the track until 6:50 p.m., as a storm cell settled over Jesse Owens Stadium.
The wait was worth it for Hawkins, however, as she qualified for Saturday’s finals, finishing with the seventh-fastest time (58.78 seconds).
“Honestly, it was more annoying than anything else,” Hawkins said of the delay. “That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me that much. The hardest part was having to get nervous all over again right before the race.”
Now Hawkins will have a chance to race again Saturday for a possible spot on the podium.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “Honestly, I did not expect to do this. But I did, and I’m happy.”
Division II girls
The Tippecanoe girls 4×800 relay team of Katie Taylor, Tori Prenger, Mackenzie Dix and Jillian Brown placed 16th in the 4×800 relay in a time of 10:02.85.
Milton’s Ally Lyons qualified for state in the high jump, but was unable to clear the opening height of 5-0.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong
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