Perry's Brayden Richards claims crown in pole vault on Division II Austintown-Fitch Regional Day 1

·6 min read

May 25—YOUNGSTOWN — Brayden Richards briefly sat on the podium May 25 during Day 1 of the Division II Austintown-Fitch Regional, regaling his fellow podium placers amid talking shop about pole vault and more.

The Perry junior stalwart was the one leading the conversation — naturally.

After all, champions should be afforded that latitude.

Richards paced The News-Herald coverage area charge with a regional crown at Fitch in pole vault, clearing 15 feet, 6 inches, with one close miss at 16-0.

"Yeah, it was fine," Richards said. "I got on a bigger pole than I ever did. I got on it, which was a good thing. It would have been nice to get 16, but 15-6 — not that I'm settling. I want 16. But that'll be fine for next week.

"I was on that 16-foot pole and had never been on it before. I didn't get fully all the way on it. But if I get on that, I'll go 16-6. It flew me up there."

#NHtrack Here are my usual NH area video meet highlights, this time from D2 Fitch Regional Day 1

Had some good luck today — got Madison's 38-3 in shot & Brayden's 15-6 PV

My 4×8 work could've been better here, but that's all right

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2023

There is much more to do, of course, en route to the D-II state meet next weekend in Columbus. But there are a couple statistical nuggets emerging from Fitch worth sharing.

Richards is the 10th boys pole vaulter from a News-Herald coverage area school all-time to advance to state at least three times. And with his and Hawken's Ethan Metz's, with Metz runner-up at 13-0, there have now been 252 boys pole vault state berths all-time. Of those 252, 42, or 16.7%, have been amassed by Perry in arguably its signature event as a program.

#NHtrack Hawken's Ethan Metz discusses 2nd in PV, clearing 13-0, on D2 Fitch Regional Day 1

As noted earlier, 1st Hawks boys PVer to state since 1982 & 3rd all-time

Went from 12-6 regular-season PR last year to more 13s this year, including 13-9 RS PR & a 13-0 here

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2023

There was one slight difficulty, such as it was. Richards was going for 16-0 while his 300-meter hurdles prelim edged ever closer. He finished up at pole vault and won his prelim, then made a bee-line for the podium as his fellow vaulters awaited.

"First, you've got to be OK with not getting a full warmup for hurdles, which I'm fine with but some people aren't," Richards said. "When 300 calls, I've got to go do it. Thankfully, I'm gifted enough that I don't have to go 110% to qualify. I mean, it was fine. I don't really care."

It should be noted Richards stated that — and given the performance, justifiably so — after delivering a rock-solid 39.57 prelim in 3s, .07 off top seed Nic Bengala of Girard.

One week and one more season now awaits for Richards to continue his quest for the all-time News-Herald coverage area record in pole vault of 16-4, set by Lake Catholic legend and Olympian Matt Ludwig in 2015.

Richards, after his 16-0 and 16-4 1/2 close call at the Euclid Relays, senses it's coming sooner rather than later.

"My form is coming along," Richards said. "I've gotten bigger poles, and I've actually gone from seven-step to eight-step, which gives me more speed. This was my first day trying the eight-step. I got the bar, so I will gladly take it. Next week, who knows what happens?"

West Geauga's boys 4×8, with Grant Congdon, Matthew Dienes, Christopher Whiting and Daniel Kearns, placed third with a 7:59.04. That marks the first West G boys 4×8 state berth in program lore and the first boys relay state berth in an event 4×2 or longer since 2002.

The Wolverines held firm in the top three with Marlington and Woodridge. Whiting had a strong third leg with a confident wide move down the homestretch to give Kearns the baton in the lead.

"This is just the perfect finishing touch to three of our senior years," Congdon said, alluding to himself, Whiting and Kearns. "Matthew is a still a junior and going into his senior year. It's the perfect way to end our high school career as West Geauga runners."

Chagrin Falls' vaunted girls 4×8 will make its seemingly annual call on Columbus and state. The Tigers' quartet of Bella Radomsky, Lilly Stukus, Leah Kler and Mila Gresh took fourth with a 9:41.84. Gresh's anchor was outstanding, making a hard charge to the bell lap with Woodridge, Salem and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy pulling away, then taking fourth to stay on the backstretch.

It is the 19th state berth for the Chagrin girls 4×8 and eighth straight.

Other News-Herald coverage area state qualifiers from Day 1 were Beachwood's Madison Torbert and Gilmour's Brayden Green.

Torbert continued the Bison's recent surge of girls shot putters to get to state alongside Elizabeth Metz and Sarah Brown with her third with a 38-3 on her first prelim throw.

#NHtrack Beachwood's Madison Torbert discusses 3rd in shot with a 38-3 to become the 3rd girl in school history to advance to state in the event during D2 Fitch Regional Day 1

(Had to shift back to 4x8s in real time, so kept it a bit briefer, but glad to see her get out)

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2023

Green's trek went the opposite direction, as the junior waited patiently and nailed down a 20-10 3/4 on his last jump in the finals. He is the fourth Lancers' boys long jumper all-time to qualify for state.

#NHtrack Gilmour's Brayden Green discusses his 3rd in LJ with a 20-10 3/4 on D2 Fitch Regional Day 1

As noted earlier, 4th GA boys LJer to make it to state & 1st since CJ went in 2018

Has shown 21 ability this year, stayed the course & found a high-20 to get out on last jump

— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) May 26, 2023