Soaring over the streets

Photos by Dan Haberly/ and Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News

2nd annual Florence Street Vault a success

April 7, 2023 — For the second year in a row Chris Johnson and his Siuslaw High track and field team successfully staged an athletic event right in the middle of Historic Old Town Florence. The 2nd annual Florence Street Vault, a high school pole vault competition, was a success.

The process began with getting approval from the Florence City Council to close down a portion of Bay Street for most of March 29. Though it took some discussion at two city council meetings the idea was approved unanimously. That was the easy part.

Johnson and a small army of track athletes arrived early on the morning of the event to assemble the raised runway required to stage a pole vault competition on a city street.

Vaulters from Siuslaw High and high schools throughout Oregon converged on downtown Florence and after days of rain leading up to the event the skies cleared and by the time the runway was assembled and warm-ups began at about 11 a.m. the sun was shining bright.

Spectators filled sidewalks on both sides of Bay Street between the Beachcomber and Traveler’s Cove and anticipation was high by the time the official competition began at noon.

The highlight of the early part of the competition was the pole vault debut of Siuslaw junior Dylan Jensen.

Jensen, usually a distance runner for the Viking track team, arrived at Bay Street the morning of the event to help set up and by the time the competition started he had added his name to the list of competitors. Jensen had an impressive debut, in unusual conditions, and still managed to clear 8’6”.

Besides the home vaulters from Siuslaw, the athlete that fans were most excited to see vault was a freshman attending the statewide online school, Willamette Connections Academy, named Addison Kleinke from Eugene. At last year’s event, when Kleinke was just an eighth grader, she surprised fans at the first street vault last year by clearing a remarkable 13 '6’’.

Kleinke was joined by her younger sister Brynn, a 5th grader, and also a nationally ranked pole vaulter for her age group.

Though both girls appeared to have a ton of fun, neither performed as they had hoped as both were trying out new, larger poles. Addison failed to qualify at 12’. Brynn cleared 9’6’’, a very impressive mark for a 5th grader.

Top Viking girl at the event was freshman Danin Lacouture who cleared 7’

The winner on the girls side was Alexa Anderson of Tigard. Her leading 12’ vault was a personal best and tied for the highest girl jump by any high school girl in the state this young season.

Siuslaw’s Kyle Hughes put on quite a show for Viking fans on the boys side. His last vault was a personal best 14’, which puts him at the top of the 3A classification.

Hughes’ 14’ was good for third place overall on the boys side. Juniors Danner Wilson and Jonathon Parks, both of Marshfield, tied for the boys championship with matching 14’6’’

Siuslaw sophomore Justin Allen set a personal record and finished 6th with a vault of 11’6’’. Freshman Will Johnson was directly behind him at 10’6’’. Junior Talan Ross cleared 10’. Freshman Martin Zhen also competed in the event.

Local sponsors for the event include Brian Lacouture Building, Stitch and Sole and Zolezzi Insurance Agency.

The Viking track team hosted a JV meet with Mapleton on Thursday after press deadlines. Next up is the Prefontaine Invitational at Coos Bay on Saturday, April 8. First events start at 10 a.m.