Brooke Hoppe was one of many people who enjoyed hearing the oohs and aahs from many people who were at Lodi Farmers Market.
The recent Golden Sierra High graduate also had a chance to throw out T-shirts, hear rock ‘n’ roll music from the 2000s back to the 1980s and watch a mother of four children leap to success at the Lodi Farmers Market on Thursday.
Hoppe was one of 26 people who competed at a USA Track and Field pole vault competition held at the farmers market at the intersection of Oak and School streets — the first such event at the Lodi Farmers Market. There were 13 cometing in the high school boys division, seven in the high school girls division and six in the open elite men’s division. Lodi High’s track and field program hosted the regional sporting event.
“You always want to do well at a farmers market,” said Greg Wright, who was the Lodi High track and field coach for more than a decade until stepping down last month. “In my opinion, Lodi has the best farmers market in the Valley. This is better than some of the other venues that I have seen. It’s a concert-type environment.”
The atmosphere was similar to anyone who has attended a huge track and field meet. But this time, only pole vaulting was taking place.
“The nice thing about pole vaulters is that there’s a lot of camaraderie; they all know each other especially with social media,” Wright said. “There’s always been a friendly competition. It’s a lot nicer than just a regular high school competition.”
At the start of the high school girls division, a modest crowd formed behind the mat of the pole vault on the intersection of Oaks and School streets. The Delta winds and temperatures in the 80s seemed like perfect jumping weather.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hoppe said. “I have quite a few friends that were jumping.”
Hoppe won the division at an even 11 feet in her first attempt. Having cleared 11-6 for fourth place at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters at Davis High of Davis last month, Hoppe missed earning a CIF State Track and Field berth — only the top three advance. For a personal record and fun, Hoppe attempted 11-7, but missed all three attempts.
Hoppe said she and her family have known Wright since she started attending Golden Sierra, located in Garden Valley in El Dorado County.
Now Hoppe has her sights set on Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colo. on a scholarship.
“The program is amazing,” Hoppe said. “I’m really excited.”
Kayla Meyer followed behind Hoppe at 10-6, but also missed her attempts at 11 feet.
Kelsey Siria, a recent Lodi High graduate, also competed in the event. She cleared 9 feet but missed all three chances when the bar was moved to 10 feet.
Each time Hoppe and Siria, along with all those competing, cleared the bar, one of the volunteers threw a T-shirt to them. Then the pole vaulters would turn around and threw the T-shirt into the crowd, making someone’s visit to the farmers market a memorable one. Most times rock ‘n’ roll music would be played over two loudspeakers that ranged from OutKast to AC/DC.
Wright teamed up with Turlock High track and field coach Bergann Hernandez and Oak Ridge pole vaulting coach Brent Burns. They had a runway built that was 130 feet long, 4 feet wide and 8 inches high.
That gave the pole vaulters — including Hernandez, who is a mother of four children — plenty of time to establish their approach from the start to the end of the event that would have hopes of clearing the bar.
The crowed continued to grow at the intersection of Oak and School streets when the high school boys division warmed up with runs to the mat and practice jumps. By the time this division started, many people lined up the sides of the businesses near that intersection to watch and seemed to be amazed.
Sam Wright, a recent Lodi High graduate who won the boys pole vault at 16-5 at the California Interscholastic Federation Track and Field Championships last month, did not compete in Thursday’s fun-filled event because of a shoulder injury.
Turlock’s Nathan Garibay won the high school boys division at 16-1. He and Oak Ridge’s Tyler Burns were the only ones who cleared the bar at 15-6.
There were more onlookers as six men warmed up in the Open Elite Men’s division. Samford University graduate Tray Oakes won at 17-4.5. Princeton University graduate August Kiles was second at 17-0.75 and UCLA’s Kyle Brown finished at 16-8.75.
Wright said he has space reserved for the July 11 farmers market, but that would just be high school athletes. The USA Track and Field National Championships will be held July 9-12.
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.