Baldwin's Lachut captures WPIAL pole vault title
Baldwin junior Nick Lachut was energized all day.
It led to a WPIAL championship for the 5-foot-8, 140-pound trackster.
Lachut won the WPIAL Class AAA boys pole vault event last week at Baldwin Stadium, clearing a career-best height of 14 feet, 9 inches.
“I knew it was going to be a great day because I woke up early that morning, and I couldn't fall back to sleep I was so excited to jump,” Lachut said. “I went into the meet with confidence that I was going to put up a fight, and I knew everyone else would too. Earlier in the week I jumped 14-6, but I haven't cleared 14-9 ever before.
“Winning WPIALs still doesn't feel real. I beat my previous personal best by a foot. I wouldn't be in the position I am in now without the support from my coach and my friends and the constant competition we have inside the pole vault program.”
Baldwin's pole vault coach is Dave Klueber, a former pole vault standout for the Highlanders. Klueber was the event coordinator at the WPIAL meet.
“Nick has worked extremely hard this season and has shown the potential for big things,” Klueber said. “This past week, he was able to piece everything together.
“We had a mock meet (last) Monday. Nick cleared 14 feet, 6 inches on his first attempt. He has shown the potential to vault over 15 feet many times in practice, but the weather this outdoor season hasn't been the greatest with all the rain.”
Lachut, 17, has been a pole vaulter since his freshman year at Baldwin. He and teammate Dave Johnston put on an exciting two-man show in the pole vault event. Johnston, a senior, ended up in second place with a vault of 14-6.
It was only the second time in school history that the Highlanders took first and second place in the boys pole vault event at the WPIAL finals.
Klueber and Paul Paulson finished first and second in the event in 1992, clearing heights of 14-6 and 14-0, respectively.
“We have had tremendous support from our administration and our athletic director in allowing us to set up a pole vault pit in the school gym to practice indoors when the weather doesn't allow us to go outside,” Klueber said. “This, and Nick and Dave both practicing and pushing each other all season, has led to that great showing of placing first and second in the WPIAL this year.
“However, they will be going for school history this week. With all the success Baldwin has had in the pole vault in the past, we have never won two state medals at the outdoor state championships. That will be both Dave's and Nick's goal this weekend.”
The PIAA track and field championships will take place Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.
“It's the first state meet I've had the opportunity to compete in, so I expect it to be a lot of fun,” said Lachut, who owns a 3.5 grade-point average and also has competed in football and lacrosse at Baldwin. “I want to set a new personal best (mark), and I'll try my best to go for gold.”
Speaking of personal-bests, Lachut's previous career-best pole vault height in a meet was 13-9, set at the Baldwin Invitational.
“The pole vault is a funny event,” Klueber said. “When you start to figure things out and do things correctly, big jumps in heights usually happen. In Nick's case, he finally put everything together at just the right time.”
Baldwin has five other PIAA track and field qualifiers, including senior Jasmin Wicks, who finished fourth in the shot put (39-4.75) and fifth in the discus (119-10) at last week's WPIAL Class AAA girls' track and field finals.
“I was preparing (for the WPIAL meet) for days, but I was quite nervous,” Wicks said. “I am really proud of my performance because I did the best of my ability. I want to thank my coaches and everyone who supported me.”
Junior Alina Stahl took third place in the long jump (18-2.5), while junior Laurel Bristow secured sixth in the shot put (38-4).
On the boys' side, Baldwin's two other state qualifiers consist of junior Arlen Hooks and senior Casey Conboy, who finished third in the 300-meter hurdles and 3,200-meter run, respectively, with times of 39.79 and 9:30.34.
Two other Baldwin medalists at the WPIAL meet were sophomore Bailey O'Malley and junior Logan Richards, who ended up seventh in the shot put (49-5.5) and javelin (161-7).
Baldwin also was represented by the following at the WPIAL championships:
BOYS — Hooks (110 hurdles), sophomore Brendan O'Malley (200, 400), junior Jack Mezeivtch (3,200), sophomore Mike Starzynski (high jump) and Lachut (long jump).
GIRLS — Stahl (100, 200), sophomore Macy Hale (800), senior Amanda Shiflet (high jump, triple jump), senior Jordan Hoydick (pole vault), senior Amber Yauch (long jump, triple jump) and Bristow (discus, javelin).
Baldwin's 1,600 and 3,200 relay squads were WPIAL finalists.
The 1,600 relayers consisted of (boys) Hooks, Lachut, Brendan O'Malley and Conboy; and (girls) Victoria Tamborino, Makenzie Shandor, Stahl and Hale.
The 3,200 relayers were (boys) Noah Wysocki, Mezeivtch, Zack Zovko and Conboy; and (girls) Shandor, Kerri Herron, Hale and Devon Schroeder.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.