• Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    From left: Monarch pole vaulters Max and Mia Manson, Heidi Liles and Cole Rowan. The Coyotes swept the 5A state titles last season, and are expected to again this year.

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    Monarch's pole vaulters Max and Mia Manson at the high school on Tuesday.

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    Monarch's Cole Rowan practices at the high school on Tuesday. Rowan is the defending Class 5A state champion.



LOUISVILLE — The name Pat Manson has stood as the standard in Colorado prep pole vaulting lore since 1986 when the Aurora Central alumnus set both the boys state meet record at 17 feet, 3 inches, and the all-time Colorado prep record at 17-7.5.

With another Colorado state championships set to begin on Thursday, Manson’s records have withstood the test of time and the evolution of the sport for over 30 years. They have been challenged several times but never broken.

The latest challenger to Manson’s reign over the Colorado record books, however, is inching closer to his marks and might just have what it takes to supplant him.

That challenger is Monarch junior Max Manson, Pat Manson’s son and heir apparent to his pole vaulting crown.

“It’s really cool and it’s a great goal to be motivated by,” Max said of chasing his father through the state record books. “I’ve always kind of thought of it as some far off thing and now it’s starting to be become a possibility. He’s really excited about it and he wants me to get it. He said that he’s coached a bunch of people that have taken tries at the record and that it’s super cool this time to have it be his son.”

Max has been around jumping his whole life, but his main sport was rock climbing until he began to train for pole vault in eighth grade. Since then he has finished second in the event to cap each of his first two seasons of high school track with the Coyotes, who finished runners-up for the 5A boys team championship last season.

This spring, Max enters the state meet with a state-leading height of 17 feet even, which is also the ninth best height recorded in the nation this season, according to MileSplit.com. But whatever happens in Max’s pursuit of his father’s records, he still won’t be the first of Pat Manson’s offspring to win a state title.

As a freshman last May, Monarch’s Mia Manson burst onto the scene to win the 5A girls pole vault title by clearing 12-06 at the state championships. Mia, who has jumped 13-6 indoors but has also been dividing her time between training for multiple different events this season, is battling a foot injury and still expects to do her part to keep the Manson dynasty alive this Thursday.

“Last year I went into state not really knowing what to expect or which girls were going to be there,” said Mia, who will only do pole vault at state because of her injury. “This year, I know what’s happening, I know the rankings and I just have more experience now. I’ve been taking it pretty easy because of my foot so I’m not expecting a huge mark. Hitting a PR would obviously be great but I’m just going to try to do what it takes to win and not make my jumping foot any worse before the summer meets. I still have two more years after this to chase the records.”

Indeed, Mia is already close to the girls state meet record set at 13-04 by Classical Academy’s Andrea Willis in 2016. She’s not far from reaching Colorado’s all-time record of 13-09, also set by Willis in 2016, either.

Monarch’s pole vaulting prowess didn’t start with the Mansons and it doesn’t stop there either. Just last year, Heidi Liles placed fourth in the 5A girls pole vault and current Coyotes senior Cole Rowan cleared 16 feet to win gold ahead of Max Manson on the boys side to give the Coyotes their third 5A boys pole vault winner in the past four years. The program’s current run of success in the event began when Andrew Barlow won pole vault gold in 2014 and again in 2015, clearing 16-08 to lock up the title and then taking several nearly successful bonus-time attempts at Pat Manson’s state meet record.

The Coyotes track program hasn’t suddenly developed into a pole vaulting factory by coincidence. Monarch has an enviably talented vaulting coach in Mike Tully, who won the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and has since retired from an 18-year professional career that included him holding the American pole vault record for several years. Pat Manson himself is a head coach at Above the Bar Track Club, a pole vault-specific training facility in Boulder where many of the Monarch jumpers hone their craft.

Though he has spent most of his life in the sport and has seen just about everything there is to see, even Tully can’t help but get excited to see what the Coyotes pole vaulters will do in the season finale at Jefferson County Stadium on Thursday.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Tully said. “I’ve been here maybe six years and we’ve had a number of good pole vaulters. Andrew Barlow went to Cornell. Heidi Liles will go to Air Force next year. It makes it fun to be a coach because it’s not just the Mansons here, even though they are amazing athletes and they deserve all the recognition they get. We’ve got a lot of good vaulters and we’re going to keep this pipeline going.”

Brad Cochi: cochib@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BradCochi