KF’s Kelly wins state pole vault title

Published 10:42 pm Friday, February 27, 2009

For most high school athletes, a state title is the culmination of hard work and countless hours of practice.

For King’s Fork senior Allen Kelly, it’s a very meaningful honor, but it’s become one more stepping stone to higher goals.

Kelly cleared 15 feet 3 to knockout his final rival, Matthew Armentrout of Deep Run. The same two competitors were the final two at the state outdoor championships last May, with Kelly prevailing for his first state title.

Email newsletter signup

Since then, Kelly’s had success at the national level at the Nike Nationals and at the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev., where Kelly vaulted a personal-best 15 feet 8 in January.

After passing until the bar reached 13 feet 6, Kelly had no problem with his first two heights. Kelly then missed on his first attempt at 14 feet 6.

“I got mad. I know I should’ve had it. I used that anger. I let it out on the runway and smoked the next bar,” said Kelly.

Kelly cleanly cleared 15 feet on his first try at that height, then needed until his second try to get 15 feet 3. Armentrout had one last attempt after Kelly’s successful vault.

The familiar rivals exchanged handshakes and talked about the competition immediately after the state title was decided, then again about 10 minutes later after Kelly took three attempts at 15 feet 6 but couldn’t clear it.

“We practiced two times this week, Monday and Wednesday, and on Tuesday and Thursday we lifted weights, so I was a little sore. I thought I had it (at 15 feet 6). On my second attempt I got over the bar, but didn’t finish it.

“I’m happy with it. It’s a great honor to be the state champion,” said Kelly, for whom Nike Nationals is the next test, in Boston from Mar. 13-15.

“I was planning to get over 16 feet by the end of the indoor season. There’s still Nike Nationals and anything can happen there. 16 feet 4.75 inches is where I really want to be before starting in college.”

Kelly has signed a scholarship to attend Virginia Military.

Also on Friday, day one of two at the VHSL Group AAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Boo Williams Sportsplex, Nansemond River sprinters had impressive times in the qualifying heats of the 55-meter dash.

Senior TaNay Chandler cut 0.15-second off her best time this season and clocked 7.01 seconds, the fastest time in the state this season. Chandler came into the meet with the fifth-ranked time in Group AAA.

Senior James Taylor won his heat in the 55 in 6.33 seconds, shaving 0.03 seconds off his best time this season. Taylor will be going for four state championships on Saturday; in the long jump, 55, 300 and 500.

Lakeland’s Jaquan Demiel won his qualifying heat the 55-meter hurdles, with a time of 7.56 seconds which was 0.13 better than his seed time.

In the boys triple jump, Nansemond River’s Ricky Blake finished fourth in the state with a reslyt of 45 feet 3.25 inches. The triple jump winner, GW-Danville’s David Wilson, set the best mark in the nation this season for a high school athlete at 50 feet 1 inch.

Saturday’s schedule starts at 8:30 a.m. with the track events starting at noon.