At the beginning of the postseason run that culminated in his second straight state pole vault title, West Forsyth senior Jack Haller was reminded of what not to do.
The day of the Region 5-7A track and field championships was a windy one, and Haller made a number of adjustments to deal with that: a different pole, different steps, his starting mark. All the changes got into his head, and he only cleared 14 feet, well below his personal best, and finished second place.
“Believe it or not, it just made me more confident,” Haller said on Monday of that meet. “It really kind of flipped a switch in my head and really woke me up, that not everything’s just going to be a walk in the park or anything like that, and I really do need to get after it.”
Haller’s turnaround after that meet was obvious: He set a personal best of 15 feet, 7 inches at sectionals on April 28 and wound up winning that. And with Parkview’s Brian Hauch pushing him at the Class 7A state meet last Friday in Rome, Haller set another personal best, and won his second straight state title, with a jump of 16 feet.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking, but it was really, really fun,” said Haller of the competition with Hauch, who also reached 16 feet but had more misses. “It got to the point where, win or lose, I was just happy that it was that type of competition. I'd hate for it to be kind of a walk in the park … I really like the competition, and we pushed the heck out of each other, both of us.”
Haller was Forsyth County’s lone individual champion at the Class 7A state meet, which was contested at Berry College’s Valhalla Stadium from Thursday to Saturday, but multiple other county competitors had strong finishes. West Forsyth’s Kyle Brown set a personal best of 155 feet, 5 inches in his last throw in the discus and finished second in that event, with South Forsyth’s Ridvan Kazimov coming in fifth. In the shot put, Kazimov finished second with a throw of 54 feet, 3 inches, and Brown was sixth, at 50 feet, 10 ½ inches.
In the girls 400 meter dash, Lambert’s Jordan Smith bested her fifth-place finish from last year by finishing fourth in 55.80. The Longhorns’ Camden Weaver finished fifth in the pole vault, with a mark of 14 feet, and Jalen Battle finished sixth in the high jump at 6 feet, 2 inches.
South Forsyth’s distance runners had a strong meet, with Madelynne Cadeau finishing fifth in the 3200 meter run in 11:02.06 and Kaylee DuPont finishing sixth in the 1600 in 5:06.63. The highest county finisher in the boys distance events was Lambert’s Lee Keil, who came in fifth in the 1600 in 4:19.98.