Schramm repeats, seeks more at states

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Connor Schramm of Williamsport clears 13-9 to win the Class AAA boys pole vault title Thursday at Williamsport.

Connor Schramm hit the pole vault pit and bounced to his feet in one motion. The Williamsport senior punched the air with his right fist.

Just a few minutes prior he was on the brink of elimination from the Class AAA pole vault at the District 4 Track and Field Championships. But at this moment, he had all but secured his spot as a district champion.

Schramm cleared 13 feet, 9 inches Thursday on the first day of the two-day meet to win his second consecutive district title in the pole vault. He’s one of seven local athletes who earned a spot in next week’s PIAA meet at Shippensburg University.

Milton’s Tyler Leeser (AA 3,200), Canton’s Connor Hess (AA high jump), Jersey Shore’s Isaac Davis (AAA 3,200) and Schramm all won district titles. Loyalsock’s Quinn Serfass (AA 3,200), Wellsboro’s Dupree Hosey (AA long jump), Milton’s Keayon Williams (AA long jump and high jump) all qualified for states with either a second-place finish or by reaching the state qualifying standard.

For Schramm, yesterday’s performance was a confidence boost. His 13-9 mark was his best this year, but six inches under his personal best, which he made at last year’s state meet. He’s spent this entire spring trying to re-build his vaulting form.

He struggled through the indoor season in the winter, and constantly using a short run to the pit left his long run all out of whack for much of the spring. So piece-by-piece he’s rebuilt his form.

Thursday, it all came together when he needed it most. He cleared both 12-9 and 13-3 on his final attempt and was trailing Shik­ellamy’s Tanner Shaw as they got to 13-9. Schramm cleared the height on his second attempt, leading to his fist pump and he hopped out of the landing pit.

The 13-3 mark was already the best of Shaw’s career, and he just couldn’t match Schramm’s mark. Schramm closed the competition with three misses at 14-4, where he tried to set a personal best. His first attempt was easily his best attempt and leaves Schramm believing he has even higher to go at states next week.

“It took so long for me to get my run right, and when the run was right, other things weren’t right,” Schramm said. “I’ve been re-working my entire jump up and down. It finally feels good to be back.”

The mechanics of a successful vault are like building blocks. Without each successive step, the next step won’t work and will likely make the vault fail. Thursday, everything seemed to come together. Even when he failed at his highest height, Schramm knew he was plenty over the crossbar.

These are the kind of jumps he expected to be doing all year. He came into the season wanting to put himself in contention to get on the podium at the state meet. But he knows even the mark of 14-4 likely won’t get him on the podium at states.

Last season, eighth-place at the state meet cleared 14-9. So while yesterday was a positive day, Schramm knows there’s still work to do over the next week to reach his goal.

“It’ll be there at states. That’s when I need it,” Schramm said. “It’s nice to get this, but I’m hungry for more.”

Davis didn’t have much competition in his two-mile race, which thankfully had some reprieve from a sweltering day when the sun hid behind the clouds. He had to create his own pace in the race which he ended up winning by 44 seconds over Shikellamy’s Doug Hallman.

He broke away from the pack within the first 100 meters and never looked back. The only thing Davis had to push him was the occasional time update from a coach so he could tell if he was on track or not.

Davis won in 9 minutes, 49.39 seconds. It was his best time this season by over a second, a mark which he had previously set at last week’s PHAC meet where he finished second.

“I knew I was going to be up front from the beginning. So I knew I had to create a pace for them, and for me, too, if I wanted to run the kind of time I wanted,” Davis said. “It’s harder because you don’t have someone in front of you pacing you or someone behind you pushing you. It kinda gets in your head sometimes. You have to stay relaxed and focused on those times your coach wants you to run.”

It’s been an up-and-down season for Davis, who is trying to find his stride after taking time off from running during the winter. After a fall season where he finished third in the state cross country championships, Davis said he needed some time to just relax.

It meant he came into the track season not quite where he wanted to be. He’s battled tough fields of runners and himself all spring as he tries to find his stride again. Thursday seemed to be a step in the right direction.

“I have been getting kind of frustrated, but you have to live with what you ran,” Davis said. “It’s been an OK season, but I know I have cross country in the fall and track next year. But I have to deal with what I have now and do better next year.”

He has only one loss in dual meets in either the 1,600 or 3,200 this year and that came in the 1,600 in a season-opening dual with Williamsport. But he has just one invitational win in either event, and that came in early April at the Molly Dry Invitational at Mansfield University in the 1,600.

Davis thinks the competition he’s seen at those invitationals will help him deal with the chaotic experience of running at the state meet. Plus, he knows he’ll have runners both ahead of and behind him to push him.

“I think I needed the break. I think it’s going to make me a better person. But I don’t think I’ll ever take that break again,” Davis said. “When I know I have good competitors with me next week, I know I can run a good time.”