By Rob Kiser
COLUMBUS — Covington sophomore Jett Murphy wasn’t sure how fast he would recover from a knee injury suffered during his freshman season.
Safe to say, he exceeded those expectations, finishing fourth in the Division III pole vault at the state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Stadium.
“I wasn’t sure I would be able to do all this, this quickly,” Murphy said after clearing 14-4 and breaking Jon Sampson’s school record. Murphy had tied the record at district and regional before breaking it Friday.
“I was able to break the school record,” Murphy said. “To do it at the state meet, that felt really good.”
That left Murphy as one of five vaulters left at 14-8.
Colin Etchen of Edgerton was the only vaulter to clear that height. With Murphy, Ryan Stevens of Newcomserstown, Cory Depinet of Attica Seneca East and Michael Kochenderfer of Ashland Crestview all going out at that height.
Etchen went 15-6 to win the title. Because of misses, Murphy finished fourth. Depinet and Kochenderfer tied for second and Stevens finished fifth.
He had made it through 14-feet clean, again matching Sampson’s record.
“That was a big goal coming in (getting to 14-4 with no misses),” Murphy said. “The atmosphere over here is a lot different, but it is just something you have to adjust to.”
After missing 14-4 on his first attempt, Murphy sailed over the bar with plenty to spare on his second attempt.
“I knew I was going to get it,” Murphy said. “I didn’t expect to make it by that much. But I knew I could do it.”
When he took his third attempt at 14-8, the other three had already gone out, meaning if he made it, he would finish in the top two. And he was close.
“I was thinking about that (two guys left),” Murphy said. “But, I came over here, finished fourth and got a school record. I definitely want to get 15 feet next year and a state championship is a big goal. We will just see how things go.”
Murphy has set the bar high after his performance Friday.
Russia’s Josh York had already accomplished his goal before high jumping Friday.
Finishing eighth and getting on the podium was just an added bonus.
“I never expected to be here,” the senior said. “I just thank God for the opportunity.”
York was clean on his first two attempts, before missing once each at 6-2 and 6-3.
“I am thrilled,” he said. “I just need to thank my family and God. Once I cleared 6-3, I knew I had a good chance of placing.”
Russia’s 1,600 relay team is running on Saturday.
The Raiders advanced to the finals by finishing second in their heat Friday in 3:26.78.
Jack Moorman had them in second after the first leg and the Raiders stayed there the entire race.
“That was the plan,” Moorman said. “We knew we needed to get out fast.”
Weston Lavy said his second leg could have been even better.
“I got cut off or I would have really been up there,” Lavy said.
Caleb Ball maintained the Raiders pace.
“I just wanted to keep chugging and get the baton to our anchor (Trevor Monnin),” Ball said. “We have three seniors on this team and it means a lot.”
Monnin never slowed down, giving Russia the fourth fastest time going into Saturday’s finals.
“I was going as fast as I could,” he said. “It feels great to be in the finals. We are going to have to improve on that time tomorrow.”
Covington’s Cade Harshbarger finished eighth in his heat of the 110 hurdles in 15.83 and seventh in the 300 hurdles, 41.34.
Covington’s 1,600 relay (Zane Barnes, Brandon Magee, Jayce Pond, Nathan Lyle) finished seventh in their heat in 3:30.72.
It marked the end of an impressive career for Magee, who qualified for state in relays all four years.
Miami East’s Daniel Everett fouled on all three of his attempts in the discus to finish a good career at state.
In Division II, Versailles’ Josh Steinbrunner came up short in his bid to make the finals.
He finished sixth in his heat in 14.86.
Newton’s Brady McBride will run the final race of his career this morning, competing in the D-III 3,200; while Piqua’s Andy Mayse will run in the D-I 800 and 1,600 tonight.