COLUMBUS — The unthinkable almost happened to Riley Hunt.
The Greenville sophomore was competing in the pole vault at her first-ever Division I Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet on Saturday and entered the competition at 11 feet 6 inches. Instead of panicking after missing her first two attempts at the height — one she has cleared multiple times throughout the season — Hunt dug down deep inside and powered herself over the bar on her third and final attempt to stay alive in the competition.
From there, she went onto to clear 12 feet and place sixth in the state.
“After my first two tries at 11-6 I just knew I had to get over it,” Hunt said. “I knew I had to hit a harder plant than I did the first two times.
“I’ve never really had any trouble getting over that height before so it was a little surprising,” she continued. “I was so relieved when I got over it.”
The thought of Hunt possibly getting a no height in her first trip to the state meet wasn’t something her coach considered either until the moment presented itself.
“We were trying to use poles today that we’ve used all year,” said Micah Coblentz, Greenville’s pole vault coach. “I think the heat softened them up a little bit, and we were constantly making adjustments, and it just didn’t go as smoothly as most of our meets have.
“For the third attempt we switched poles because we knew it would be a little stiffer and should hold her back, and it worked for that height,” he continued. “Then at 12 feet, we went up to her 13-foot pole. She’s been over 12 feet most of the year, and it has not really been a difficult vault for her, but she just wasn’t catching up to the bend.”
Both coach and athlete know what needs to happen next.
“She just needs to hold that front arm longer instead of letting it collapse,” Coblentz said. “She knows it, and I know, so it’s just stuff we are going to work on and get better.
“I’m OK with today,” he continued. “I know she’s disappointed, and I don’t feel like we did our best today, but she still made podium, and I am tickled for her for that. I think her future is going to be very, very bright.”
Things went about the same way for Greenville’s other pole vaulter, Ryan Trick.
The senior was competing at state for the last time in what turned out to be a super strong field of Division I competitors. Trick took multiple attempts to get over many of the heights, which he admitted wore him down a bit. However, he was able to clear the bar at 14 feet 6 inches, which was good enough to make the podium in eighth place.
“It wasn’t what I wanted exactly, but I’m at the state meet so I can’t really complain,” Trick said. “I made a lot of third attempts so my legs were a little tired, but overall I’m happy to be here and happy to be on the podium.
“It’s definitely been a wild ride for my career at Greenville,” he continued. “I’m glad to have been able to represent Greenville well. I’m looking forward to four more years of vaulting at Bethel College so I can’t complain. I’m not done yet, and I’m going to be jumping higher and higher as I go.”
Coblentz was extremely happy that his senior was able to end his career on the podium at the state meet.
“I am so proud of him,” he said. “He has had such a great career at Greenville, and this is where I wanted it to end. I’m happy he made podium, and I’m happy that everything ended up the way it did for him.
“This event was loaded this year,” the coach continued. “It really was so we were a little nervous coming in. And he hadn’t been over 14-6 in several meets, so I was really happy to get back over that height. He’s been over 15 feet before, and I know he would have liked to have gotten over 14-10 today, but with the cards we were dealt I think he did just fine. I am really happy for him.”
Both Hunt and Trick were happy for the experience of the state meet.
One other Greenville athlete was also in competition Saturday at the state meet. Senior Sierra Cress ended her high school career placing 12th in the Division I girls discus throw with a distance of 118 feet 5 inches.