Burroughs High's Matt Schwartz sets different standard
Indians senior advanced to state meet, is No. 2 all-time in vault record books, while also having clinched two Pacific League individual titles and one rare team crown.
Burrough High senior Matt Schwartz is the 2014 All-Area Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)
It’s the statistic most closely associated with Burroughs High senior Matt Schwartz.
The Indians pole vaulter advanced to the final day of the 96th annual CIF State Track and Field Finals in Clovis in early June because he hit a distance of 15-9.
Schwartz set a new personal record and broke a month-and-a-half long stalemate thanks to 15-9, while simultaneously replacing an unwelcome bout of frustration with a cocktail of relief, unabashed joy and satisfaction.
“When I landed on that mat, it was crazy,” Schwartz said of the moment right after he cleared the bar at 15-9 at Buchanan High. “Everything disappeared and I didn’t remember any of my faults, just making it. It was amazing and I went a little nuts because I couldn’t believe it.”
While such an accomplishment may be enough alone to merit Schwartz selection as the 2014 All-Area Boys’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year as selected by the sportswriters of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun, there’s so much more to the UC Berkeley-bound senior than just 15-9.
For starters, the No. 17 is also on Schwartz’ resume.
That’s how long it had been since the Burroughs boys’ track team had won a league championship heading into the 2014 campaign.
That streak stood until April 23, when the Indians bested city rival Burbank, 79-57, at Memorial Field to cap a 7-0 league record, which delivered the team its first-ever Pacific League crown and first title since the Foothill League days.
“Matt obviously played a huge role in that win and that’s one of the more memorable efforts this year,” said Burroughs Coach John Peebles, the 2014 All-Area Boys’ Track and Field Coach of the Year. “We couldn’t have won without him.”
Schwartz, a multi-talented athlete who endured two concussions playing football his sophomore year, showed off his versatility in competing in four events, with wins in the pole vault (15), high jump (5-10) and long jump (20-0) and a runner-up, personal-record effort in the shot put (40-9), which accounted for 18 points.
“I’m used to bouncing around between events during the league season and to do whatever was needed,” Schwartz said. “I think what made me proudest was how the young guys stepped up. This is a team of juniors and one of our top scorers was a sophomore.
“They stepped up and helped win this title. It was an amazing team and the next couple of years look bright.”
Another digit in Schwartz’ list of accomplishments is two, as in the number of Pacific League individual championships the competitor captured at the league finals at Arcadia High on May 9.
Schwartz set a new league meet record, snapping the mark of 15-0 1/2 set by Rosemead’s Dennis Gingrich in 1969, by vaulting to a title-securing distance of 15-1.
While Schwartz frustratingly missed his three attempts at 15-6, his then personal-best mark, he had little time to pout.
Immediately after faulting on his last try, Schwartz raced cross-field and further etched his name into school lore when he took his one and only leap and the last attempt for anybody during the league’s high jump final and won the event with a mark of 6 feet, much to the amazement and chagrin of the rest of the field, which had been participating for more than an hour.
“I didn’t have time to think or practice,” said Schwartz, who set a personal record and area-best mark for this year. “I just jumped in my only try and I was able to get a good attempt.”
Another stat that weighed somewhat heavily on Schwartz was the No. 3 or third.