Monte Orchard (Kaizen Pole Vault) has been a coach for some of the best vaulters in the state of Kentucky. He broke down the State of the Vault for the 2023 season. The data below was compiled by Monte and reflected upon by him as we watch pole vault grow.
2023 has proven to once again be big year for vaulting in Kentucky.
For the first time ever, there were 3 boys still in the competition when the bar went to 15-6, as Wyatt Stewart (Madison Central), John Phelps (St. Xavier), and Reagan Wright (Madison Central) worked on re-writing the expectations the KHSAA State Championships. Its worth noting that had KHSAA rules been athlete-centric, Jordan Bryner, who also cleared 15-0 during the season, could have been the third athlete that calls Madison Central home and the 4th on the list of boys attempting 15-6 in the same meet. As it shook out, neither John nor Reagan could put together the 15-6 jump that day, and Wyatt went on to increase his own State record to 16-8.
This was also an incredibly deep field for the boys this year: During the season, 8 boys jumped 14' or over (same as last year), and there were 26 that jumped 13-0 or better (compared to 16 last year) in all classes. This should start to make opening heights at State more and more interesting, and in a good way, as it raises expectations to become closer to what surrounding states have.
On the girls side, there were fewer girls to clear 12-0 or better this year - 3 this year, 5 last year, and the same is true for 11-0 clearances. But last year there were 6 seniors in the top 20, this year there were 4, so this is probably a temporary blip. The win for the year, and dominating all year in the rankings was Harvard commit Lillian Hodge, who also won the girls high jump (again).
There has been discussion in to pole vault community about opening heights at State and the number of no-heights we had. Here is the relevant data:
Make what you will of the data, there are good arguments for change, and good arguments for keeping things as they are.