Canyon's Rachel Baxter smiles as she clears the bar during the pole vault competition Saturday. She took the title at the CIF State meet with a height of 14 feet, 2 inches.

Canyon's Baxter pushed, but emerges with CIF State pole vault title


CLOVIS – There are no guarantees in the pole vault.

Great vaulters have no-heighted before, especially after enduring a waiting game.

That’s the part of the event that Canyon’s Rachel Baxter hates the most, but once the wait was over, she had reason to smile.

Baxter cleared the bar at 14 feet, 2 inches on Saturday night to win the girls pole vault title in the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High.

The junior was the last of three vaulters to make a clearance at 13-8, and the pressure mounted to conquer the next height quickly. Mater Dei’s McKenna Caskey and Pacific’s Erika Malaspina had cleared all the previous heights without a miss.

“I knew that I had to clear that 14-2 to win,” Baxter said. “Once I cleared that, I was like, ‘This is just crazy.’ Once I was the only one, it was just unbelievable. To have them clear those bars, that really pushed me.”

CIF State Meet results (finals)

Baxter cleared the eventual winning bar on her first attempt. With two attempts left for Caskey and Malaspina, the Comanches star waited several moments before attempting to set a national record at 14-8. Her third attempt was close and provided promise for future attempts to break the record.

“I knew that would take a while, so I was just trying to stay loose … for that next attempt. I think that was the hardest part, just staying patient.”

Marina’s Jett Gordon made it a county sweep of the pole vaulting titles. He cleared the winning height of 16-8 inches on his third attempt to edge out South Pasadena’s Esteban Suarez.

The Vikings senior said that he came to the state meet with the mindset that he was doing this for the love of the sport.

“I think last year, I came in with bigger hopes,” Gordon said. “Mentally, I’ve realized that you don’t want to come into big meets with your hopes really high.”

“You want to come into it to have fun and because you love vaulting. I was just out there having fun, and it’s great to be a state champion.”

Tesoro’s Amanda Gehrich successfully defended her 1,600 meters championship, calling the repeat title “just as amazing as the first.”

Once again, Gehrich defeated Great Oak’s Destiny Collins, but the Titans senior did not have to make a move at the end. She was a strong frontrunner from the third lap on.

“It was definitely different from last year,” the Utah signee said. “I relied on my intuition and my racing experience. Every race is different, so I really had to feel it out today. My intuition was right on point.”

Esperanza’s Bronson Osborn threw 200 feet, 10 inches to win the discus competition. He followed by earning a second gold medal. The junior produced a throw of 69-103/4 inches to win the shot put.

Osborn came into the meet as the state leader in both events.

Marina’s Jake Arnold (57-3/4), and Esperanza’s Clint Meyer (56-71/4) were seventh and eighth in the shot put, respectively.

Woodbridge freshman Emily Garner took fourth in the triple jump at 38-9.

Los Alamitos’ Thomas Heib (1:51.52) was in contention down the final straightaway of the 800, but Great Oak’s Isaac Cortes (1:50.75) came away with the win. Colorado signee Connor Dunne (San Clemente) was unable to kick anyone down the stretch, finishing seventh.

Huntington Beach’s Cassie Durgy appeared to get boxed in on the back stretch on the second lap of her 800 race. The UCLA signee picked off two runners in the final 100 meters to place sixth in 2:09.03.

In girls discus, Costa Mesa’s Felicia Crenshaw threw 143-6 for seventh. Emma DeSilva (Mission Viejo) was eighth at 142-1.

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