Danville's Matthew Thomas just misses state finals

·3 min read

May 28—CHARLESTON — We always hear that records are made to be broken.

Danville junior Matthew Thomas was hoping that he could set a new personal record in the pole vault for the second week in a row.

Thomas qualified for the IHSA Class 3A State Track and Field Meet with a jump of 4.16 meters or 13 feet, 7 3/4 inches at last week's sectional meet in O'Fallon.

On Friday, Thomas cleared 4.10 meters (13-5 1/2) but he needed to clear 4.25 meters (13-11 1/4) to make today's finals.

"It was a good day, but just not good enough," Thomas said. "I went out trying to get a PR, which is a good thing. All three of my attempts were really good jumps, but I just didn't get it."

Of his three misses at 4.25 meters, it was his second attempt that had Thomas second-guessing himself.

"I came down on the bar," he said. "We had the standards buried. If we had the standards set at 75 instead of 80, I probably would have cleared it.

"I just nicked the bar with my chest on my way down."

Even after being eliminated in his flight, Thomas still had a slim bit of hope for making the finals as only 11 of the 17 competitors from the first flight cleared 4.25 meters and the top 12 advance.

But Naperville Central senior Chris Fleschut and Bloomington junior Tyler Petersen each cleared 4.25 meters from the second flight to knock Thomas and seven others tied at 4.10 meters out of contention for the state title.

"I would have been shocked if I made it," Thomas admitted. "Being a junior and making it to state is a great thing.

"There are a lot of seniors and juniors that never make it to state. This was an accomplishment."

But, it also serves as motivation.

"Next year, I'm going to be more determined to get a state medal," he said. "This is something that I've been striving for during my high school career. Now, I have one more chance.

"I've seen today that I can clear 14 feet next year. I just need to get more consistent with it."

Thomas and the rest of the pole vault competitors went through a strange day at O'Brien Field.

It started with all 33 of them warming up on the pits outside in the rain, but then after a nearly one-hour delay, the decision was made to move the competition inside to Lantz Fieldhouse.

"I know a lot of people like being outdoors better, but I'm the opposite," Thomas said. "I like being indoors because you don't have to worry about the sun, the wind, the rain or a wet track.

"The only part I didn't like was warming up, sitting for an hour and warming up again."

The finals in all three classes are set for today at O'Brien Field in Charleston, beginning at 10 a.m.