Granite Bay pole-vaulters join proud legacy

Alviso, Zingheim headed to state track meet
By: Todd Mordhorst, Gold Country News Service
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Editor's note: In the original running of this story, we omitted one local pole vaulter who has gone on to success at the next level. Oakmont's Brittany Peterson has since been added to the list at the end of the story. The former Viking set records at American River College before moving on to Humboldt State, where she currently competes. -KJ Between Granite Bay, Rocklin, Placer, Roseville and Del Oro, the foothills are cranking out high-level pole-vaulters year after year. The current crop of top boys competitors includes the Simmons twins of Rocklin, Placer’s Derrick Hinch and Granite Bay’s Jordon Alviso. All four seemed headed for a chance to medal in the event at this week’s state track meet in Clovis, but circumstances have left Alviso heading to the event as the lone Placer County boys representative. Cale and Robbie Simmons, who finished 1-2 in the pole vault at the Masters meet, have elected to pass on state as it conflicts with their graduation activities at Rocklin, and Hinch fell short in his attempts at the Masters. Alviso, on the other hand, finished fourth at the Masters, but his 15 foot, 4 inch top vault exceeded the minimum at-large height to qualify, and he will head south looking to represent the region. Surely, his local rivals will be cheering for him from afar. Cale Simmons says that around the pole vault pit, animosity is absent. The Rocklin High senior is good friends with most of his top rivals, celebrating in their success and offering an encouraging word when they’re down. “At the meets, it’s not really about who wins, just who does the best,” Simmons said. “I’m not rooting for other people to not make their vaults. Everyone wants everyone else to do well.” Granite Bay’s Scott Roth created a buzz when he won back-to-back state titles in 2005 and 2006. He’s still flying high, winning the Pac-10 Championship last week as a sophomore at the University of Washington. Teammate Ryan Shuler also landed a college scholarship. He’s currently competing at Cal. The friendly atmosphere has proven to foster success. The foothills feature four of the top 10 boys vaulters in the state. On the girls side, four of the top 20 marks in California this spring are from Placer County athletes. Placer graduate Stacy Dragila - the first Olympic gold medallist in the women’s pole vault - said the community atmosphere is one of the best parts about the event. “I know a lot of people from that area go to the Pole Vault Summit each year,” Dragila said. “It’s such a close fraternity. It’s a fun group of people. There’s a lot of different training you can do. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s fun and it’s kind of a daredevil sport.” Placer County girls have followed strongly in Dragila’s footsteps. Mackenzie Landry burst onto the pole vault scene last spring as a freshman at Del Oro. One year after her brother Connor starred at Placer, Landry made it to the CIF State Championships, where she took third. This year she’s even better, clearing 13-1 at the Arcadia Invitational in April. But last week at the Masters, Landry met her match in Granite Bay sophomore Katie Zingheim, who vaulted 12-6 to take the section’s top prize. That duo, who train together, will take their head-to-head battle to Clovis for one more run at it. Dragila has seen Placer County develop a reputation for pole-vaulting from afar. “The coaches are doing a great job of recruiting kids to track and keeping them around, finding a niche for them,” Dragila said. “They’re having fun and I think that’s why they’re having success.” -Kurt Johnson contributed to this report. FYI: Vaulting to the next level Placer County pole-vaulters who are competing, or have competed at the college level or higher: Stacy Dragila, Placer Paul Litchfield, Bear River Christie Chatterley, Granite Bay Scott Roth, Granite Bay (Pac-10 champion as a soph. at Washington) Ryan Shuler, Granite Bay – Cal Blair Wallingford, Roseville – Sacramento State Brittany Peterson, Oakmont - Humboldt State Kasey Burlingham, Colfax David Rhodes, Placer Stephanie Bagan, Granite Bay Rachel Simmons, Rocklin Tawny Lambuth, Placer Tess Balcomb, Colfax