A THIRD-place finish in the pole vault at state wasn’t part of Mason Hamrick’s career plans, but the setback may serve to fuel his determination.
The defending Class AA champion — who had aspirations of being a four-time title holder by the time he left Jefferson — vaulted a 13-6 at state Thursday to take the bronze. Naturally, the showing left the ambitious sophomore disappointed.
“I’ve worked my whole entire career trying to just be that four-time state champion that everyone’s been taking about,” Hamrick said. “I knew if I could do it this year that it would just be a breeze (the next two years). I just couldn’t do it.”
Hamrick vowed to return to practice this week as he adjusts his goal to winning three state titles — especially with many of the top Class AA vaulters moving up to Class AAA next year — and hopefully achieving record-setting heights. Former Jefferson vaulter Tyler Porter holds the Class AA record at 16-7.
“Now that I can’t do four, I’m just going to shoot for that record,” Hamrick said.
His summer camp schedule will include a trip to Georgia Tech. Hamrick said he’ll likely take a summer off from participating in any USA Track events but plans to be plenty busy.
“Like I said, I’m just going to come out here next week and start busting my butt — go to camps over the summer,” Hamrick said.
Hamrick lost out on second-place to North Oconee’s Tony Isaac (13-6) on tie-breakers. Hart County’s Jared Scotland won the pole vault with a vault of 14-7.
“If I had to lose to two guys, it would be those two guys,” Hamrick said. “I have a lot of respect for them, and they’re really good sports about it.”
Jefferson pole-vaulting coach Gary Portner noted the tough competition in Class AA.
“Class AA had all those 13-foot jumpers, and it was going to come down to misses,” Porter said. “If you had a miss, it put you in a bad position. It just wasn’t his day.”
Hamrick first ran into problems Thursday at 13 feet. He missed twice on that height, but cleared it on his third try to stay alive in the competition. He then vaulted 13-6 on his first attempt, but missed all three tries at 14 feet — a height which he achieved at state sectionals.
Hamrick explained that he missed his two 13-foot attempts on a bigger pole, which forced him to switch to a smaller pole.
“I knew that I couldn’t clear 14 (feet) on the smaller pole, and I couldn’t get on the bigger pole, so I was just kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place there,” Hamrick said.
Hamrick refused to use his injured right foot — on which he had surgery in the offseason — as an excuse for why he had to use a shorter pole or missed his vaults.
“I was just off today (Thursday),” Hamrick said. “I just wasn’t on my game and everybody else was.”
Porter expects that Hamrick will come back stronger.
“He’s young and he’ll come back,” Porter said. “I know he’s upset but that happens.”
Hamrick’s teammate, James Howard, finished fourth with a vault of 13 feet in his first state meet. The top four finishers in the pole vault were all from Region 8-AA.
“James, he’s come along,” Porter said. “He PR’d by a foot this year.”
Jefferson had only one other participant in the state meet — Carson Newman, who took fifth in the discus with a throw of 144-4.
The Dragons finished 16th overall in Class AA with 15 points.