Canyon's Rachel Baxter clears the bar with ease as she competes in the women's pole vault during the Arcadia Invitational Saturday in Arcadia.

Canyon's Baxter breaks state pole vault record


ARCADIA – Some smiles never fade.

The widest grin spread across the face of Canyon’s Rachel Baxter as the competition rolled on and well after it had ended.

That’s because the Comanches junior set the state record with a clearance of 14 feet, 2 inches in the pole vault in Saturday night’s Arcadia Invitational.

Call the smile symbolic of the season that Baxter has put together. She earned a national age-group record by conquering 13 feet, 10 inches at the Triton Invitational on March 19. When she matched that mark Saturday, it broke the meet record.

All eyes were on Baxter at that point, who said she was nervous, but excited by the attention.

“Having everyone watch me is kind of nerve-wracking, but I think it pumps me up to help me get over those bars,” she said.

On her next attempt, the junior cemented her spot in state history. Her 14-2 clearance places her fourth in the nation all-time among high school vaulters.

“The 13-10, it tied my (personal record),” Baxter said. It gave me that confidence that I can get over it twice. By how much I cleared that, I knew that I could get the 14-2.”

Baxter wasn’t the only county athlete who had a successful day at Arcadia. San Clemente’s Connor Dunne continued his surprising season with a victory in the mile.

The Colorado signee finished in 4:09.45, using his signature kick to take over in the final 200 meters.

“This race, I did not feel that great,” Dunne said. “I just tried to maintain contact with the lead pack. I have a fairly strong kick, so if I’m in contention in the last 200, I can usually come out strong with a win. I’m running a lot better than I thought I would early.”

Brea Olinda’s Austin Tamagno won the 800, posting the third-best time in the nation this year with a 1:50.93 effort.

Jett Gordon (Marina) made it a county sweep of pole vault, clearing 16 feet, 4 inches to win it.

The meet was marred by some big-name scratches due to the rain, but athletes that did compete said it did not affect their performance. Esperanza’s Bronson Osborn, who finished second in the shot put (66-8), was among them.

“For being wet, the ring was pretty nice,” he said. “I don’t think that affected the competition much at all or the way that I threw.”

Marina’s Jake Arnold also reached the finals of shot put, placing seventh (56-4 3/4).

Runner-up performances were had by Huntington Beach’s Cassie Durgy in the 800 and by Tesoro’s Michael Mitchell in the long jump. Mitchell’s national leading mark of 23-8 was surpassed by Justes Nance of Blair Academy, who leaped 23 feet, 9 1/4 inches.

Los Alamitos’ Kallie Given was third in the high jump (5-4).

Chance Lamberth (Canyon) and Amanda Gehrich (Tesoro) both finished fourth in the mile.

Trabuco Hills’ Cameron Hurd was third in the 300 hurdles and fifth in high hurdles. Emma Kratzberg (Newport Harbor) was fourth in the 300 hurdles.

Mission Viejo’s 1,600 relay team of Whitney Hessler, Taylor Arco, Sahla Cook, and Kennedy Gillian placed fourth in 3:52.03.

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