Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera
LAKEWOOD — Monarch High School’s Andrew Barlow has never put the pole vault bar up to 16 feet in his life. He hasn’t even tried it in practice, not even jokingly.
The Coyotes junior cleared 15 feet, 6 inches to lock up the 5A state title on Thursday at the Colorado state track and field championships. Having earned the chance to see how high he could go with the pressure off, Barlow considered it time to raise the bar to 16 feet.
Barlow cleared the bar on his first try.
“Three of us cleared 15 feet and I was the only one to make 15-6,” Barlow said. “The highest bar I’ve tried was 15-8 before that. I had a lot of adrenaline because it was the state meet. I was just trying to have fun at 16 feet so I ran as hard as I could and jumped high.”
Barlow’s previous personal best was 15-4, which he jumped at the Front Range League championships on May 6. That jump earned the 6-foot-2 Coyote the top-seeded entry height at state and he out-jumped his own best mark to hold of Chaparral’s Nolan Ellis and Doherty’s Brad Mattison at 15 feet.
With a new personal best of 16 feet, the 2014 state champion has come a long way since finishing in a five-way tie for 10th place in 2013.
“Last year was my first time at state so I definitely had some nerves,” Barlow said. “My run has gotten much better and I was relaxed. I just tried to have some fun instead of trying to jump high.”
In the early distance events, Boulder County athletes were all over the podium.
The Coyotes took second in the girls 3,200-meter relay with a time of 9 minutes, 13.49 seconds. The Coyotes team — Kaitlyn Benner, Claire Green, Elissa Mann and Karina Mann — finished behind Fort Collins.
Benner, a senior, earned her first-ever individual medal by placing fifth in the girls open 3,200 with a time of 10:58.83.
“I wanted top five and I got fifth,” Benner said. “I’ve never gotten an individual medal before so that was great.”
Fairview’s Isabelle Kennedy took third, finishing the 3,200 in 10:47.37 despite getting spiked on the first lap and crossing the finish line with a bloody shin.
“I came into the race thinking, ‘This is my race and no matter what happens, I’m going to own it today,'” Kennedy said. “I got a PR by 11 seconds and I’m really proud of it. This season has been a really great season for me. I’ve gotten really strong and I’m looking forward to college.”
Kennedy will also run in the open 1,600 on Saturday.
The Fairview girls 3,200-meter relay team placed third with a time of 9:19.22.
Also in the open 3,200, Boulder senior Erin McLaughlin placed eighth in 11:06.19 and Monarch’s Holly Bent placed 12th in 11:18.41. After leading the first lap, Legacy’s Emma Gee took 15th, and Monarch’s Ashley Litoff finished in 16th with a time of 11:29.47.
The Boulder girls 3,200-meter relay team took 10th in 9:35.43. In the boys race Monarch (8:20.01), Boulder (8:28.37) and Fairview (8:28.93) came in 14th, 15th and 16th.
Boulder junior Satchel Caldwell ran a 9:35.37 to take sixth in the boys open 3,200. Monarch’s Tyger Roch placed 10th in 9:46.22 and Boulder’s Kyle Lewis took 18th in 10:18.93.
“It’s a testament to how competitive Boulder County is,” McLaughlin said. “This group is so talented and it’s wonderful to be able to compete with them almost every weekend. It’s a great area and it’s been a great state meet so far.”
Follow Brad on Twitter: twitter.com/BradCochi