Davis District meet: Syracuse vaulter Wightman missed record, now has optimism to jump higher

Thursday , March 29, 2018 - 11:47 PM

SYRACUSE — Lexi Wightman was a bit nervous before attempting to clear 11 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault Thursday at the Davis District Championships.

So she did what she always does: a handstand.

“That’s kind of my thing, it’s kind of my way to clear my head when I’m taking attempts. I’ve been working on those since I was a little freshman, I was the only one that couldn’t do handstands,” Wightman said.

Wightman set a new meet record Thursday by clearing 11 feet in the pole vault, which also tied the stadium record at Syracuse High School.

Earlier this month she cleared 11-foot-3, which is the best mark in the state, according to Athletic.net. She wants to clear 12 feet (that would be a state record) by the end of the season, but Thursday, it was a miss at 11-foot-6 that really lit her fire.

“That second attempt at 11-6 on that pole kind of gave me the idea that that’s very possible, so now I think that’s what I’m going to be working for,” Wightman said.

Thursday was the first day Wightman jumped on a 14-foot pole, and she didn’t really notice much difference compared to the 13-foot pole she’s been jumping on this year.

The longer the pole, the harder it is to bend. Longer poles, though, launch vaulters higher into the air.

She had plenty of height on her second attempt at 11-foot-6, but the standards were farther back and she landed somewhat on the bar instead of glancing over it.

“If that pole will work for me, I’m planning on high heights,” she said.

Wightman was always going to pole vault, it seems. Her father Greg, who’s also one of her coaches, pole vaulted in high school. So did her two older brothers.

One of the coaching nuggets her dad told her before one an attempt was to just to do it and not think of anything else.

So she didn’t hear the stadium announcer ask everyone to direct their attention to the pole vault when she was attempting to clear 11 feet, the new meet record.

But look around the next time you go to a track meet and if you see someone doing handstands (Wightman says she can hold one for a full minute), it usually means Wightman’s about to soar.

Freshman Hansen having fun running top times

Carlee Hansen’s warmup for the girls 4x400 relay consisted of some stretches, practice runs, cartwheels and a captive audience listening to the charismatic freshman talk.

“I talk a lot,” Hansen said, laughing. “From one minute to 30 minutes (in practice), the entire time I just talk.”

This is quite a normal thing for the Woods Cross distance runner, who certainly isn’t letting nerves keep her from running top times in the state this year. In her own words, she’s just having fun.

“I’m fine with running, I just kind of go,” she said. “It’s great!”

If fun also translates to fast times, she’s doing that too.

Hansen ran the 800 meters in 2:14.07, by far the state’s fastest time, and won by nearly five seconds Thursday, seemingly running at a sprinter’s pace as she tore down the stretch. 

At this stage, she’s the only girl in Utah to run a sub-five-minute time in the 1600. Hansen clocked 4:58.11 in a race in St. George last week. So what’s her secret?

“I just train and then go run, I don’t like to complicate things or else I overthink it,” she said.

Hansen, whose older brother, Jacob, is also on the Wildcats track team, says her biggest concern is not training too much and not picking up an injury. It’s a fine line to walk (or run?).

“Would I get faster if I ran my recovery (run) at a faster pace and push myself then? At the same, I don’t have trouble dropping back, the girls run a fast recovery, I run a slow recovery,” she said.

“What makes me actually slow down is because I talk to them. I want to finish my conversations!”

Kaufusi grabs golden quartet at home stadium

Nathan Kaufusi had the state’s second-fastest time in the 100-meter dash coming into the Davis District Championships. And yet, it’s not his best event, he said.

It’s the 400-meter dash.

“I’ve been struggling a little bit, in indoor I just wasn’t running that fast and stuff, but I came out here and ran 48.95 (seconds) and I was really happy about that,” Kaufusi said. 

There was plenty for him to be happy about Thursday as he won the 100, 200, 400 and ran the anchor for the 4x400 relay team that took first as well.

The fact he did that in his home stadium made it better.

“Last year I came out here and I did run these same four races ... but I took three silver medals and I took the gold in the 4x400 last year too. That means more to me than any other event,” Kaufusi said.

The 100-meter time was 10.76 seconds, but the tailwind was 2.4 meters per second, just over the allowable limit of 2.2 m/s, so it won’t register as an official time.

Still, he said, his goal is to consistently run sub-11 seconds in the 100. If he does that, he’ll be right in the mix for the state championship. 

Individual winners

Girls performance of the meet: Lexi Wightman, Syracuse (pole vault)

Girls co-performers of the meet: Kelsey Steed (Syracuse), Pele Fa (Layton)

Boys performance of the meet: Andrew Simonson, Davis (300 hurdles)

Boys performer of the meet: Nathan Kaufusi (Syracuse)

Girls 1600: Laurie Murphy (Bountiful), 5:15.52

Boys 1600: Bridger Altice (Northridge), 4:30.26

Boys 3200: Josh Leatham (Viewmont), 9:49.41

Girls 4x800 relay: Davis, 10:30.08

Boys 4x800 relay: Northridge, 8:26.60

Girls 100 hurdles: Katrina Broadhead (Layton), 15.06

Boys 110 hurdles: Andrew Simonson (Davis), 14.74

Girls 100: Sarah Wynn (Syracuse), 12.81

Boys 100: Nathan Kaufusi (Syracuse), 10.74

Girls 4x100 relay: Davis, 50.53

Boys 4x100 relay: Davis, 43.00

Girls 400: Kelsey Steed (Syracuse), 59.87

Boys 400: Nathan Kaufusi (Syracuse), 48.95

Girls 300 hurdles: Bailey Kealamakia (Davis), 47.68

Boys 300 hurdles: Andrew Simonson (Davis), 38.24

Girls 800: Carlee Hansen (Woods Cross), 2:14.07

Boys 800: Anthony Jacobo (Northridge), 1:59.35

Girls sprint medley relay: Layton, 4:31.07

Boys sprint medley relay: Viewmont, 3:39.23

Girls 200: Sarah Wynn (Syracuse), 25.97

Boys 200: Nathan Kaufusi (Syracuse), 22.13

Girls 3200: Ellie Lundgreen (Davis), 11:18.90

Boys javelin: Samuel Hansen (Syracuse), 164-04

Boys long jump: Xakai Harry (Davis), 22-03

Boys shot put: Jay Wadley (Viewmont), 51-00

Girls discus: Pele Fa (Layton), 136-00

Girls high jump: Kamryn Wiese (Syracuse), 5-01

Girls pole vault: Lexi Wightman (Syracuse), 11-00

Girls 4x400 relay: Layton, 4:06.62

Boys 4x400 relay: Syracuse, 3:22.59

Team scores

Davis, 357.5

Syracuse, 287.5

Layton, 201

Bountiful, 151

Northridge, 120

Viewmont, 98

Woods Cross, 96

Clearfield, 79

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickcarr_ or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/patrickcarr17.

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