By Rob Kiser
COLUMBUS — All the blood.
All the sweat.
All the tears.
It was all worth it.
And the big smile on Covington senior pole vaulter Jett Murphy’s face told the story as he stood atop the podium at the Division III state track and field meet Friday night after winning the pole vault with a school record 15-foot vault.
And Murphy wasn’t going to be denied.
Not after an ACL injury as a freshman, an ACL injury earlier this spring and a meniscus injury early this spring.
“I was really worried about the beginning of the season,” Murphy said. “I wasn’t jumping very well. But, right now, I feel great. I have never felt better.”
The accomplishment tells you something special about Murphy.
“He is just an amazing kid,” Newton coach Nick Rhoades, who helps Murphy with the pole vault, said. “He has been vaulting basically all spring with some issues with his knee. He shows you the support he has with his family and the Covington coaching staff and community.”
Friday was a tough competition from the start.
Murphy had only one miss — at 14-4 as the bar was moved 15-feet with five vaulters still on.
Murphy was the last to take his first attempt at 15-0 — and the only one to make it on his first attempt.
As he landed on the mat, he pumped his first and had a big smile.
“I wasn’t necessarily thinking that win it,” Murphy said. “I knew it would put me in the top two. It is a height I have been watining to make for a long time and it gave me the school record.”
Rhoades thought it was even bigger than that.
“when you get to 15-feet, if you make it on your first attempt, you are going to win,” Rhoades said.
But, Hunter Garretson of Newcomerstown cleared 15-0 on this third attempt, making it a two-man competition.
The bar was raised to 15-4 — and if neither vaulter cleared that height, Murphy would win on misses.
After both missed on the first two attempts, Garretson had one last attempt at 15-4.
When he failed, Murphy was state champion.
“You never root against anybody,” Rhoades said. “Because, if he makes it, he deserves to win. But, you are nervous.”
Murphy just missed at 15-4, but it didn’t matter.
“I started vaulting in eighth grade,” Murphy said. “I missed my freshman year with an injury. When I got fourth as a sophomore and third as a junior, that’s probably when I started thinking about winning.”
And it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.
Newton freshman Dawson Hildebrand finished fourth in the shot put with a school record put of 52-2 1-4.
“My goal this year was to make finals,” Hildebrand said. “That was a school record by a quarter of an inch. I beat my own record. I got it in the finals. I was hoping it was a good one (when he let it go).”
It gives him big expectations for the future.
“I really want to get 60-foot next year,” he said.
Two more hurdles
Covington senior Case Harshbarger has a much better feeling this year.
Harshbarger advanced to the finals in both hurdle races.
Harshbarger has the fifth fastest time in the 300 hurdles, 39.73 and eighth fastest time in the 110 hurdles, 15.23.
“It just feels differently over here this year,” Harshbarger said. “I just feel a lot more comfortable.”
Harshbarger will be chasing Cole Smith of Smithville in both races.
“He is good, there is no question about that, Harshbarger said. “That is good. He will push me.”
Covington also advanced two relay teams to the finals.
The 800 relay (Alex Shaffer, Gray Harshbarger, Nathan Lyle, Tyler Freeman) have the ninth fastest time, 1:31.78; and the 1,600 relay (Gray Harshbarger, Andrew Cates, Freesman, Layle has the seventh fastest time, 3:26.19.
“It was about making the finals today,” Lyle said. “We had a much faster heat (in the 1,600 relay). The goal is to get up on the podium.”
Newton’s Cameron Stine competed in two events.
He finished tied for 10th in the high jump,tying for 10th ; and did not make the finals in the 110 hurdles, finishing with the 15th fastest time of 15.92.
The Houston 3,200 relay (Tristan Freistuhler, Parker Cox, Blake Jacobs, Ethan Knouff) finished 15th in 8:23.73.