Record setting pole vault produces four North Jersey medalists by Paul Schwartz of The Record
COLUMBUS – Michelle Rubinetti didn’t win the pole vault at the State Meet of Champions on Saturday at Northern Burlington High School. Neither did Jessica Ippolito nor Melissa Purcell.
That honor went to Leah Saifi of Governor Livingston, who cleared 12-6 on her first attempt, defeating the Bergen County trio in the greatest girls vault competition in state history. But Rubinetti, of Northern Valley/Demarest, Ippolito of Fair Lawn, and Purcell of Pascack Valley each tied the Bergen County record of 12-6 and finished second, third and fourth, respectively, as North Jersey vaulters earn four of the eight medals in the event.
The other three seemed to have smiles as big as Saifi’s after the event.
“We’re always happy for each other when we compete,’’ said Rubinetti, who made 12-6 on her second attempt after leading for most of the event. “And this was the most amazing event I’ve ever been in.’’
Rubinetti had predicted that a first jump clearance at 12 feet might be enough to win the title.
“That’s what won it the last four years,’’ she said last week. And Rubinetti did make 12 feet on her first attempt. But so too, did five other girls, in quick succession, including Purcell and Ippolito.
A record seven vaulters went to 12-6 and Saifi, the first one to try, was the first over. Rubinetti and Ippolito each went over on their second attempt, tying the county record Rubinetti had sent in the Bergen Meet of Champions on May 20. And then on her final try, Purcell, the only junior in the final four, made it too.
The quartet, including Saifi, are all part of the Hudson Valley Flying Circus club in Orange County, and compete and train regularly against each other.
“We don’t want people to know how much fun it is,’’ said Saifi. “We’re so close to one another.’’
“This has been a great four years,’’ said Rubinetti. “I know we’re all going to vault in college, but it’s not going to be the same.’’
Rogers grabs third in high jump
It’s not often when the performance matches the hype. But for Rutherford’s Jenna Rogers, her freshman year was everything that it promised to be and almost even more.
Rogers took an undefeated record into the final round of jumping in the State Meet of Champions, after clearing 5-feet-8 inches on her first attempt. But Abrianna Barrett of Montgomery and Tierra Hooker of Timber Creek, who both trailed Rogers on misses, both cleared 5-10, and Rogers just missed, leaving her in third place. Barrett won on misses.
“I wanted it really bad,’’ said Rogers, who was disappointed with her third place. “And I wanted to jump 5-10 so that I could get a new personal best. I had a great jump on my first attempt at 5-10 today, but at least I have three more years.’’
Hebner earns silver medal
It wasn’t surprising that Northern Highlands junior Monica Hebner was in the hunt for a medal in the 3,200 meters. She was seeded sixth and ran terrific races both at the North 1, group 3 sectionals and last week in group 3 states. But even Hebner was surprised when she entered the last lap in second place behind eventual winner Alexa Westley of Warren Hills and just as surprised when she took the second spot.
“My goal was to stay with (group 4 winner) Niamh Hayes who ran 5:18-5:18 last week,’’ said Hebner, “But we went out slower and Hayes started to slow down after the 1,600 so I just took off.’’
Then when I got to the last 200 meters, my brother was screaming, my coaches were screaming and I gave it all I had, because I knew they were coming,’’ said Hebner, who was clocked in 10:50.84, off her personal best but enough to beat more heralded runners like Alyssa Aldridge of Mainland, Hayes and 1,600 winner Rachel Vick of Kingsway.
“It was hotter today and standing around in the sun took something out of nus before the race started,’’ said Hebner. “But I thought I’d never have a feeling like I did two weeks ago when we went 1-2-3 in the sectionals. That was great for the team, but today was great for me.’’