CLOVIS — Samuel Wright was looking for an edge on one of his friends.
Now the Lodi High boys pole vaulter is one of California’s best in that event. Wright won the state title in that event at the 101st California Interscholastic Federation State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The soon-to-be Lodi High graduate becomes the third Flame in the school’s history to win a state title. Mike Alberg won the discus in 1975, and in 1938, Lodi’s Lloyd Doty tied for the top spot in the pole vault with Sacramento’s Lawrence McLanahan at 12 feet, 10.75 inches.
On his second attempt at 16 feet, 5 inches, Wright skimmed the bar in the pole vault for what would be the winning leap. Prior to clearing the height, he cleared 16-1 on his first attempt. The remaining two vaulters in Rancho Bernardo’s Jacob Rice and St. Francis’ Scott Toney each missed their first attempts.
“I was very positive at that point that I had won,” Wright said.
After clearing 16-01, Wright talked with Greg Wright, his father and the Lodi High track and field coach.
“I went over and told my dad ‘I feel real good about this,’” said Samuel Wright of his conversation with his dad. “I told him that I wanted to clear 16-05.”
Wright looked like he would win the event. But Rice cleared 16-05 on his third attempt.
“I felt this whole season was between me and him,” said Samuel Wright of competing against Rice, whose school is in the San Diego Section. “We’re friends, too, so we wanted to get first and second at this meet. That was the goal. It was really great to be able to do that with him. But I also really wanted to win. It was great to take that home, too.”
Wright, who has a personal best of 16-08 accomplished earlier this season, and Rice tried 16-09. But both pole vaulters missed on each of their three attempts. Wright won by fewest misses in the previous attempts.
“At 16-09, I was really excited; I was running faster,” Wright said. “I was putting too much energy into the pole, so it ended up not being enough to push me up. It was a little scary since it was new (personal best attempt).”
Despite the misses, Wright had a gut feeling that he was going to win.
“I had a good feeling at that point that I had the advantages on the attempts,” Wright said.
How does it feel to win the state championship?
“I thought I would be more excited, but I’m just exhausted right now; it’s been a long season,” Wright said. “I’m sure it’s going to hit me later. Just how crazy this all is. I’m just really grateful.”
Wright is hoping to leap to bigger heights in college. This fall, he will be attending Harvard University. An engineering major, Wright will also be on the college’s men track and field team.
Wright was one of two Flames who advanced to the finals of the state meet. DuBois, who will also be graduating later this week, competed in the girls high jump. But DuBois finished in 11th place at 5 feet, 3 inches.
DuBois cleared the bar, with plenty of space between her back and bar, at 5-03. She and many girls who advanced to the finals attempted 5-05. Each time in her attempts, DeBois had good form and arched her back to clear the bar, only for the lower part of her body to touch and remove the bar from its posts.
“I was really nervous,” DuBois said.
DuBois, who had cleared 5-04 in the trials on Friday, was excited to have advanced to the finals.
“I was mostly excited and going to have fun,” DuBois said. “Because at this point, it’s state and I was just happy to make finals. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
DuBois won the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters’ title at Davis High on May 17. She admitted to something about the high jump.
“The high jump wasn’t my favorite event,” DuBois said. “But I’m really thankful and really happy on how I did this season.”
Next stop for DuBois is George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. She will be on the college’s women’s track and field team as well.
“I’m so excited to do track,” DuBois said. “I’m probably going to be doing the pentathlon; it’s something new. I’m so excited to do that and train with the coaches.”
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.