The GHSA track and field championships draw the best of the best in the sport from across the state. However, even though Class 5A’s top pole vaulters were competing Thursday in Carrollton, no one could come close to Woodland senior Thomas Jolly.
Jolly easily vaulted over the competition, winning the state championship by 1 1/2 feet.
“It feels great. I am so happy,” Jolly said after winning state. “I started [pole vaulting] my sophomore year. I went to state my sophomore year and I choked, but since then, it’s been a dream for me to get this and to get the state record, but I didn’t quite get that.”
Jolly almost got the state record, though. After tying his personal best with a height of 15 feet, he had the bar jump all the way up to 16 feet, 2 inches, which would have eclipsed the state record of 16-1.
He didn’t quite reach that height, but he said he had “an amazing attempt.”
Jolly’s closest competitors, Joe Street of Carrollton and Jake Rubin of North Springs, each topped out at a height of 13 feet, 6 inches.
The Woodland senior said he expected much better from his Class 5A competitors.
“I didn’t expect that. The other competition didn’t get their PRs, so they didn’t do that great,” Jolly said. “I expected it was going to go a lot longer. I thought two more jumpers were going to get 14-6 at least, but they didn’t come to compete today.”
Jolly got third in the Class 5A pole vault last year.
“I don’t think a Woodland boy has won pole vault. A girl [Samantha Patterson in 2014] has, so I’m happy to be the first one,” Jolly said.
Jolly will not have much time to celebrate as he goes back to Carrollton today for the 4x400 relay with his Woodland teammates.
In addition to Jolly’s state title, Lady Wildcat pole vaulter Karson Norris tied for sixth with a height of 8 feet.
Woodland had another podium finish in the jumps as Trevor Knowles placed sixth in the high jump with a height of 6 feet, 2 inches, right behind Cass’ Tavarus Varnum in fifth. Knowles and Varnum jumped the same height, but Varnum placed higher on attempts.
Ray Varnum had an impressive showing of his own, placing second in the long jump with a distance of 23 feet, 5.25 inches.
He finished only behind Fayette County’s Caelan Filmore by less than 10 inches.
The Lady Colonels also were represented on the podium in Carrollton, as Chanel Clemmons placed fourth in the girls shot put with a distance of 38 feet, 3.5 inches.
Rounding out the Bartow County podium finishers Thursday, Adairsville’s Chad Lowery placed sixth in the discus throw with a distance of 136 feet, 7 inches in the Class 3A meet held in Albany.
After Day 1 of the three-day state championships, Woodland is currently tied for sixth in the Class 5A team standings with 13 points, while Cass is right behind in eighth with 12.