Local high school track teams seeded in top eight for state
High school track teams compete at the state meet in Bradenton starting Friday. Pensacola hasn't produced a state champion male pole vaulter since Phil Fleming of PHS in 1955.
Across the bridge in Gulf Breeze Joseph Sullivan won in 1996, but this year nine vaulters from South Walton to Pensacola are seeded in the top eight at state.
West Florida's Joseph Moreno and Catholic's Sean Toellner are two of the best hopes at state. They share the number one seed in class 2A.
Having cleared 14, but even they have trouble explaining the sport's surge in the area.
Coaches are a big deal this year, too.
Jim Whitehead at Catholic, Don Lopez at West Florida and Pine Forest's Doug Kaiser are all dedicated pole vaulting coaches. Toellner also drives to Santa Rosa Beach to train under former Olympic vaulter Daniel Ryland.
The vaulters help each other regardless of school. In fact, PCA's Caleb Phillips has gone higher than anyone in class 1A or around here.
They will have plenty of support in Bradenton and could very well end the drought with a flood of top performances.