While hundreds of area athletes began the track and field campaign on March 1, only one, Burroughs High senior Matt Schwartz, reached the season’s final day Saturday evening.
Schwartz concluded the best effort from a Burroughs High track and field competitor in recent memory by finishing seventh in the pole vault at the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Clovis Buchanan High on Saturday evening.
Schwartz turned in an effort of 15 feet, 6 inches before faulting on three attempts at 16-0 in an event won by Orange Lutheran’s Carl Johansson with a vault of 17-0.
“It’s bittersweet for me because I wanted to get 16 feet,” Schwartz said. “But to tell you the truth, how could I really be angry? I got my [personal record] yesterday, got to state finals and got seventh. It’s amazing to be out here.
“I vaulted with a bunch of great guys and made some friends. I’m sad that I didn’t get 16, but it’s all good.”
With the conclusion of his season and prep career, Schwartz finished second all-time on the school pole vault list with a mark of 15-9, which he nailed Friday evening in becoming one of 10 vaulters to advance to Saturday’s final.
Schwartz’ state finish is the best for a Burroughs athlete since senior Tony Ahr placed seventh in the 1,600-meter finals at the 2001 state championships.
“Matt’s effort is definitely impressive, especially coming back after jumping yesterday,”
Burroughs Coach John Peebles said. “When you’re going up against the best field in state, you have to compete and that’s exactly what he did.”
As for Saturday’s action, Schwartz easily cleared the opening height of 14-6, but pulled up short on his first try at 15.
The hesitation did not stop Schwartz on his second attempt, as he rebounded and cleared 15.
The pattern of a miss and make followed at the next height of 15-6 as Schwartz actually cleared the height, but kicked the bar out of position on his fall to the mat.
On his second try, though, Schwartz avoided the bar and hit 15-6.
Unfortunately for Schwartz, he was unable to establish a new personal record, as the UC Berkeley-bound athlete missed on three tries at 16 feet.
“After he finished, I told Matt I was so proud of him,” said Burroughs 25-year vaulting coach Mike McHorney, who was also in charge when Esa Sallinen set the school record of 16-4 3/4 in 1994. “This was all frosting on what he’s already done this year.”
Schwartz entered Friday’s preliminaries with a then-personal record mark of 15-6, which was set when he won the seeded boys’ pole vault competition at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays on April 19.
That mark was third-best all-time in school history and wasn’t eclipsed until Schwartz’ 15-9 on Friday.
Schwartz’ performance may be surprising in the fact that he did not practice this week as he battled strep throat.
“It didn’t bother me yesterday because I set a PR,” Schwartz said of his illness. “I gave what I could and it was a real good season.”
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.