Chris Nilsen strained to keep his body away from the bar and then began pumping his fist during his descent back toward the ground.
In what is becoming a regular habit, the Park Hill senior set another school and personal record while breaking a 36-year-old mark at the prestigious Kansas Relays this past weekend at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, Kan. He cleared 17 feet, 6½ inches in the pole vault on Saturday, April 23 to win the competition by more than a foot, surpassing Joe Dial’s record of 17-5 set in 1980.
Nilsen previously cleared 17-1 this season, topping the Missouri State Track and Field Championships’ mark of 17-0 he posted to close out his junior season.
Signed to South Dakota, Nilsen’s 17-6½ put him at No. 2 in the country this year for a high school vaulter. Zach McWhorter of Har-Ber (Ark.) finished second at 16-6.
McWhorter led the competition after clearing 15-6, 16-0 and 16-6 on his first try. Nilsen recorded misses at 15-6 and 16-6 before making those vaults on his second try, but he also went over 17-0 on the first try, while McWhorter missed three straight.
Nilsen missed once on the record-setting height before clearing then went out with three misses at 18-0½. He’s now a little more than a foot off of posting a height to become an automatic qualifier into the U.S. Olympic Trials, which requires a vault of 5.65 meters (about 18 feet, 7 inches).
In addition to the pole vault title, Nilsen cleared 6-4 in the high jump competition the previous day, tying with senior teammate Alijah Gee for fourth place.
Park Hill junior Papay Glaywulu also posted a record-setting performance to win another medal for the Trojans in a regional track meet featuring elite competition. Placing in the top nine in preliminaries for the triple jump, Glaywulu — a two-time state qualifier — sat in sixth after his second of three finals attempts. He set a new school and personal record on his final try at 48-5¼ to place second behind Blue Springs’ Justin Hall.
Glaywulu went 43-11 ¾ on his second jump and fouled on his other four tries before the record effort that topped Andre McDonald’s mark of 48-2¾ set in 2007.
Park Hill junior Grant Downes placed fourth in his heat of the 110-meter hurdles on Friday, and his time of 15.35 seconds missed a spot in the finals by a little more than a half of a second.
Taiya Shelby made the finals of the 400 after placing third in her heat Friday afternoon. She grabbed the eighth of nine spots with a sub-59-second effort and then placed seventh on Saturday despite running slower in the finals.
Park Hill’s 4x200 team of Shelby, Sephora Koudou, Amanda Alexander and Jena Hahlbeck was 12th in prelims at 1:48.04, the second-fastest in school history by just .04 of a second. The 4x100 (Koudou, Alexander, Shelby and Gigi Hopkins) placed 14th at 50.41 — third in the Trojans’ record book.
Park Hill South Invitational
The Panthers won both team titles at their six-team meet Thursday, April 21 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.
Park Hill also attended but rested many of its top runners for the KU Relays. The Trojans were second in the boys standings and fourth in the girls standings in a field of six teams.
Park Hill South’s girls were dominant in the long distance and hurdles to run away with their title. The 4x800 team of Jasmine Crawford, Marti Heit, Emma Roth and Dani Proffitt won the first of three relays for the Panthers, while Heit won the 1,600 in 5:33.98 to edge out Park Hill’s Madison King and Roth, who were both within 2½ seconds at the finish.
Keely Danielsen added a victory in the 3,200 for Park Hill South.
Dymeria Guillory won the 100 hurdles in 17.17 to head a 1-2-3 finish for the Panthers in the event. Vanessa Crawford, part of that medal sweep, went on to win the 300 hurdles in 51.42 to beat Guillory by .01 of a second in a 1-2-3-4 finish in that event.
Crawford also topped the pole vault field at 9-0. Morgen Smith (shot put) and Manue Ngo Toyne Nyemeck (400) were the lone winners for Park Hill.
Park Hill South’s boys swept the relays for four of their seven wins.
The 4x800 of Ewan Frick, Tyler Dunn, Brendan Briody and Andrew Reece opened with a win while the quartet of Nylo Clarke, Jordan Bell, Ryan Rippy and Moti Sarbessa combined on victories in the both the 4x100 and 4x200 for the Panthers.
Michael Garrison, Jared Hernandez, Carter Thomas and Kollin Williamson made up Park Hill South’s victorious 4x400 team.
Individual winners for Park Hill South included Eli Guzman (1,600), Jacob Prososki (800, winning by .02 of a second) and Rippy (long jump). Hunter Lund took Park Hill’s only title, winning the 3,200.