FORT WASHINGTON — Although the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) Indoor State Championships concluded on Feb. 25, Caleb Johnson ’19 is still excited when he thinks about his performance. Not only did the junior record a personal best 16′ in the pole vault, he set the Germantown Academy school record in the event.
The feat was surprising — but expected by Johnson — who said he accomplished such things in practice. However, for some reason, it had taken him a while to put things together during a competition.
“Either I wasn’t executing the technique correctly, didn’t have the right poles or there was a problem with the equipment,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t seem to jump it in a meet. I jumped 15’ a few times this season which is a good mark, but personally I wasn’t satisfied.”
Johnson continued to say that everything seemed to click at the state meet. New poles, good competition and a strong desire to perform proved to be the perfect mix. On his first jumped, Johnson set a personal record with a jump of 15′ 6″. His coach, Lawrence Johnson knew that the junior had more in the tank.
On his next attempt, Caleb set the mark at 16′. The previous record for Germantown Academy was 15′.
“Caleb’s performance was nothing less than phenomenal,” Coach Johnson said. “There are several barriers in the pole vault. Each of these levels of performance are indicators of an athlete’s potential. These standard barriers exist at 14 feet, 15 feet and 16 feet. Anything at 16 or beyond indicates a world class and Olympic potential in the pole vault.”
Of all people, Caleb’s coach would know. He said that Caleb’s performance matches his own high school junior performance, and he has gone on to be a two-time Olympian, a World Champion and a seven-time U.S. champion.
The junior’s performance equaled the PA state winner and also gave him one of the top-five all-time indoor marks in the state. He fell only three inches below the all-time state record.
“I had no idea the meet record was 16’ 3” before this and I definitely didn’t know I had just jumped an all-time indoor mark,” Caleb said. “I actually just found that out today and it really hasn’t sunk in yet. Two years ago when I started, I never would have thought I could accomplish what I have so far. I hope to set a new PA state record next year as a senior.”
With the season winding down, there is no more time to be in awe of the record-setting performance. Coach Johnson said that he and Caleb will be working on improving the junior’s inversion and efficiency with the pole.
The New Balance Indoor Nationals take place on March 10 in New York. Despite the big stage, Caleb does not seem phased.
“I’m looking forward to representing GA while competing against some of the best high school pole vaulters in the nation,” Caleb said. “I wouldn’t be jumping 16 feet without the amazing coaching of Lawrence and Christina Johnson and the support from the other GA coaches. I am incredibly thankful for the time and effort they have invested in me. In every aspect of track, not just pole vaulting.”