CHARLESTON – Kyle Kruthoff was at his gravity-defying best on Saturday afternoon at the IHSA Boys State Track & Field Meet.
The Erie High School senior won the Class 1A pole vault competition, and he did it in style by setting a new record of 16 feet, 8 inches. The previous mark of 16-3 was shared by Jack Denby of Carlinville in 2014 and Riley Smith of Casey-Westfield in 2015.
“It feels great,” Kruthoff said. “I couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere and better guys to jump with. Right now the adrenaline is just rushing through my body. This is just so awesome.”
Kruthoff was nearly perfect on his way to the championship. In Thursday’s preliminaries, he vaulted just once and made 13-6 to advance to the finals.
There, he made 14-6, 15-0, 15-6 and 16-0 on his first attempts before missing once at 16-4. He made 16-4 on vault No. 2, then thrilled a big crowd by making 16-8 on his first attempt.
“The 16-8 jump, I don’t think I could have gotten any better,” Kruthoff said. “They said I was pushing off the top of the pole really well. Special thanks to the coaching staff and to [coach] Tom Unruh. They know how to break me down and bring out my best.”
Kruthoff was competing against himself toward the end, as the remaining competitors had bowed out at 14-9, a height cleared by Oregon’s Jake Mennen and Altmont’s Tim Moore. Mennen placed second due to fewer misses.
Kruthoff’s previous top height was 16-1, and he was happy to exceed that with only one miss at 16-4.
“That was another goal of mine – to be clean,” Kruthoff said. “I know that sometimes I can be inconsistent and miss at low heights. That’s what really got me my freshman and sophomore years. My goal this year was to jump clean.”
Kruthoff’s vault was the class of the state meet, as 2A champ Chandlar Ifft of Fairbury Prairie Central cleared 16 feet, and 3A winner Zachary Frye of Roselle Lake Park won at 15-3.