The two area athletes with the best shot at winning a CIF State and Field championship may be senior pole vaulters Katie Zingheim of Granite Bay and Ian Rock of Davis.
Zingheim, the Stanford scholarship recruit, is the state leader at 13 feet, 4 inches. Rock, headed to Duke on scholarship, has a best of 16-1, close to the state best of 16-4.
Zingheim, ranked fourth nationally, has been the dominant girls pole vaulter in the state this season after placing third in last year's finale. She has four of the five top vaults in California in 2011.
Her best vault of 13-4 came early at the March 5 Sacramento Track Classic. But experimenting with a heavier pole is starting to pay off lately.'
Zingheim vaulted 12-7 on April 30 to win the Sacramento Meet of Champions, then went 12-10 at the Sierra Foothill League championships, 12-11 at the Sac-Joaquin Section D-II and III finals and 13-1 at Thursday's section Masters final.
"I feel good," she said after winning the Masters and placing first in her ninth major meet. "I was happy to get over 13 feet. I was pleased that some technical things, like keeping consistency through my takeoffs, went well today. That's one of the things I've been working on in practice."
Zingheim hopes to win the pole vault and attain a personal best. She'd love to move into second place on the national leaders list. Kaitlin Petrillose of McNeil, Texas, has vaulted 13-8.
Zingheim calls Morgan LeLeux's (Catholic HS, New Iberia, La.) mark of 14-2 3/4 "ridiculous" and probably untouchable.
If Zingheim isn't on her game, she could get some competition from several other vaulters, including San Diego Section champion McKenzie Johnson of Clairmont, who has cleared 13 feet.
Unlike Zingheim, Rock is a pursuer rather than the pursued in the boys pole vault.
His PR of 16-1 set at the Arcadia Invitational April 9 ranks No. 7 in California by Dyestatcal.com.
But that's only three inches short of Kyle Fraley of Lemoore's state best 16-4.
El Toro's Adam Bragg and Oak Park's Connor Stark have cleared 16 feet three times each, with Bragg hitting a best of 16-3, according to Rich Gonzalez of ESPN Rise.
Like Zingheim, Rock has experimented with a heavier pole and thinks it will pay off this weekend.
Despite swirling winds at Hughes Stadium on Friday, he cleared 15-6 (he missed three times at 16 feet) and is feeling good about his prospects.
He also won the Masters long jump on Thursday with a personal best by six inches of 23-7 3/4.
He doesn't look at qualifying in that event complicating his pole vault bid.
"The pole vault is the priority," Rock said. "But the long jump doesn't take too much out of me. If I'm not feeling good and I'm not going as far, I'll shut it down and just focus on the pole vault."
- Bill Paterson