TACOMA - Sehome pole vaulter Dylan Anderson called it "the sweetest free fall of his life."
The Mariners fan group belted out a celebratory cheer, vault coach KC Halik let out a big yell and Anderson couldn't get the smile off his face.
In one perfectly executed attempt, Anderson improved his top mark last year by more than 2 feet, matched Sehome's 18-year-old pole vault school record and went from not qualifying for the 2012 championships to winning one of his own.
What a way for a senior to cap a career.
Anderson battled to the very end with junior teammate Sam Humphreys. Both cleared 14 feet, 6 inches, but Anderson was the only one able to eclipse 14-09.00 and claim 2A pole vault's top prize Friday, May 24, during the Class 2A-3A-4A Track and Field State Championships, at Mount Tahoma High School.
"I can't believe I won," Anderson said, "because freshman year I wasn't any good. To see my changes is incredible."
Anderson went from an overlooked pole vaulter to the one with all eyes on him in the span of a year. His 2012 personal record was 12-06.00.
"One, I lifted a lot more," explained Anderson on how he's been able to make such an impressive transformation. "I ran a lot more, and I went to a pole vault clinic. I'd go to practice, and then I'd go there to get more reps."
Anderson had plenty of support during the marathon-length pole vault event that lasted more than three hours. The 2A boys started at 12:30 p.m. and didn't finish until 3:40 p.m., when Anderson couldn't get over a mark of 15-00.00 on his third attempt.
He credited his teammates, Humphreys and Blaise Black, who finished in a tie for fifth, for his ability to stay focused the whole time. He also said the pair are a big reason he's been able to push himself all year.
"My teammates are what drive me," Anderson said. "They are the reason I won. I surround myself with them, and I try to stay positive, because the second you doubt yourself you're not going to make it."
Anderson will attend Oregon State University next season, but he said there is no track and field team to join that he knows of.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.