State Record Snapshot - Jordan Yamoah Towers in Pole Vault

While there might not be much track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their marks came from, and where are they now. We're releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to be put your mark on history. Tune in!

We look here at a record from back in 2011. Enjoy!

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Jordan Yamoah is at New Balance Outdoor Nationals at Greensboro NC on Saturday, June 18, 2011, and he is in there among the highest of high-flying competition in the pole vault. The Arlington senior is undefeated on the year, holds both the indoor and outdoor state records, and just won at States the weekend before by more than a foot and a half with a new SR of 16-7. But here at Nationals he is definitely not the favorite. With the school year schedule over, his shirt also says that he is representing the Flying Circus Track Club of Warwick where he often trains.

Yamoah is ranked 10th in the nation right behind Andreas Duplantis of Lafayette LA, and Duplantis is one of only three of the top 10 US PVers who are not competing here. Andrew Irwin of Mount Ida AR has skied to 17-6.5 and is the favorite, but Nikita Kirillov of St. Pius GA, Dalton Duvio of John Curtis, LA, Jacob Blankenship of Gahanna Lincoln OH, Sam Kendricks of Oxford MS and Joey Uhle of Olentangy Liberty OH have all topped 17. Yamoah has twice scaled 17 indoors, but here at outdoor Nationals he is the 7th seeded vaulter.

But Yamoah has at least one big factor riding in his favor -- he has been hot lately and he has been following a schedule that ensured that he would be peaking in mid June, a strategy put in place after he tired at the end of indoor season and couldn't stay with Irwin and Uhle in the final heights at Nationals. The pole vault gods are famously fickle, and a great performance can be followed by a no-heighter at the next meet. More to the point here, though, all of the nation's top four marks on the year were set before April 7th, all by guys in the west or south where almost all top PVers come from. But those results really have no meaning here at Nationals two and a half months later. Two of the top four guys have been struggling to reach 16 recently, and another packed up his poles in mid May. Only indoor champ Irwin seems to be still maybe riding high among the top 4, though results from Arkansas are spotty.

So as a 7th seed, Yamoah still has momentum to keep some big hopes riding high. One of the top questions for a PVer is when to start his action for his opening height, because he needs to save his energy for the higher heights. Five to six heights and ten or so attempts on a successful day is usually the optimal max. Unlike the rest of the top vaulters, Yamoah jumps in at the lowest starting height of 4.5m or 14-9, which he makes without trouble. He then passes at the next height of 15-3, where most of the other top vaulters except Irwin come in. He clears the next height of 15-9 again on his first attempt, one of seven vaulters to make the clearance and with Irwin still sitting out. Yamoah takes a chance by passing at 16-0.75, which six vaulters including Irwin clear but which claims the US #2 guy Kirillov. Yamoah is back in at 16-4.75 where he has has his first miss, but he is one of only four guys to make it, putting him in the third position with Joey Uhle and in back of Irwin and Blankenship who cleared on their first attempt.

The bar is raised to 16-8.75, a height that of the final quartet is meaningful mainly to Yamoah. Irwin, Blankenship, and Uhle have all cleared 17 previously, so 16-8.75 is not such a big deal for them. In fact, Blankenship who has chalked up three misses at lower heights passes here. But Yamoah holds the NY state record at his PR of 16-7, so this mark would be extra large if he makes it.

Irwin, Uhle, and Yamoah all miss their first two attempts at 16-8.75, so everything for them is riding on the third and last try. Yamoah is the first to go. With a strong plant and a big sky, he has it. The seventh seed is now in the lead for a few minutes. Uhle then also uses his last opportunity to move onward. But the favorite Irwin ends up making only five attempts on the day as he misses on his third try.

The bar is raised to 17-0.75 as Blankenship reenters the fray to make up a final trio vying for the win. Again all three vaulters miss their first two attempts as Blankenship, Yamoah, and Uhle give it a shot. On the third try Blankenship clears the height that gives him the national championship, while Yamoah catches the bar with his side and Uhle also goes out.

For Yamoah, a second silver medal and a 4.75 inch boost in height follows up on a 2nd at 16-4 NBON in 2010. But he also has a new state record that will remain standing through today. He does have one more stop on the season at USATF Juniors in Eugene OR a week later that will not be quite as high-flying before a spectacular career is through. It does though give him another get-together with the top PVers in the nation, and he will be seeing many of them again in the next five years while he vaults for Texas A&M Kingsville.


Where everything began for Jordan Yamoah in track and field is not completely clear, as history has a way of recording a lot of mistakes in its annals. The first mention of him in the media comes from May of 2008 in what was his freshman year, though the local paper describes him as a sophomore and notes that he won the pole vault and placed 2nd in the 200m in a dual meet where his Arlington team squashed John Jay - East Fishkill by 138-49. Two other details about him from 2008 come from his MileSplit profile, showing that he finished 5th in the pole vault at the Section 1 Class A meet at 11-6, and then startlingly ran an 11:06 in the 3200m at Section 1 State Qualifiers to place 5th. But no, that long distance time should really be listed as an 11-6 in the PV, the event to which he would devote almost all of his time and energy.

Like so many in the Lower Hudson area, Yamoah got his vaulting start at the Flying Circus pole vault training center, also known as the Barn, about an hour's drive on the other side of the river from Arlington HS. Under the tutelage of ex-Warwick Valley coach Tim St. Lawrence and his staff, Yamoah got both the information and the inspiration to quickly reach very respectable heights from very early on in his freshman year. 

By his sophomore year in 2009, Yamoah was already clearing heights over 12-0 for an Arlington team that under Coach Steve Arnett included some top athletes such as sprinter Leroy Rouse, distance guys John Muller and Adam Doherty, jumper Sean Reilly, and fellow PV guy Tom Brace. Indoors after a string of mainly 1st and 2nd place results that reached a high of a 1st place at 12-9 in the Section 1 Class A meet, the season ended for Yamoah with a 4th at S1 SQ. Arnett summed up his promising sophomore with the description, "He's daring. That's a quality you can't oversell when it comes to the pole vault." Indeed, timid PVers are an extreme rarity, and may be extinct.

Yamoah took his daring to a whole new level in the spring, though early in May it got him in trouble when he landed flat on his back during a vault attempt, requiring a trip to the hospital and a two-week recuperation stint. The rest period seemed to do him good though, as he returned in mid May at the Northern County meet with a 14-0 vault for the win. Two more 14-0 bests picked up wins at the Section 1 Class A and State Qualifier meets, and he then reached a season's high with a 14-6 for 2nd at Eastern States. Another 14-0 placed him 7th at the States meet, which was won by Queensbury's Nick Gerardi at 15-0. Yamoah was the only sophomore there among the top 22 finishers.

By Yamoah's junior year in 2010, anything under 14-0 was for the most part a thing of the past, meaning that he would win by anywhere from a foot at the Molloy Stanner Games at the Armory where he cleared 15-0 for the first time, to 5 1/2 feet at the less competitive Pearl River Holiday Festival at Rockland Community College. He reeled off 13 straight wins including a new PR of 15-2 at the Vault Expo Club Champs meet in mid February and finished the streak with a win at Section 1 SQ. Up at Barton Hall at Cornell for States, Yamoah's season finally hit a rough spot. "On that day I was a nervous wreck," said Yamoah, whose steps and pole plant were all off and he placed 15th with a 13-0 best. Monsignor Farrell's Cory Duggan won at 16-0.

A week later back at familiar grounds again at the Armory for the National Scholastic Indoor Championship, Yamoah made up for the States debacle in the best way, earning the national title at a new PR of 15-5.75 over Duggan who cleared the same height but on a later attempt. "It was a complete surprise," said Yamoah, who after States had a new self-imposed marching order, "Just go out and vault."

With a national title in his belt, Yamoah entered his junior outdoor season with more notoriety and maybe a little more connection with the top PV guys out in the west and down south who could do 16-0 but didn't make trips to indoor meets at the Armory. Yamoah's first big coup was a new outdoor PR with a win at Penn Relays at 15-5, and two weeks later he cleared 16-0 at the Loucks meet. His undefeated season continued through nine straight wins that included another 16-0 at Section 1 Class A. At States he at last got the crown along with state and meet records as he reached 16-6. The winning streak finally came to an end at NBON as he placed 2nd at 16-4 to Gainesville GA senior Paul Malquist at 16-8. Yamoah finished 10th in the national rankings in 2010, the same spot he would hold in 2011, but again many of the marks ahead of him came from March or the first few days of April at the very start of outdoors.

Yamoah's historic senior indoor season was almost a carbon copy of his results for his junior outdoor season, except at maybe a half foot higher level. On December 19, 2010 at the Section 1 Kickoff at the Armory, he soared to a state record 17-0 (the video of the clearance displayed at end of article). Arlington fans erupted loudly, and Coach Arnett said, "I was so excited I almost fell out of the stands," a fact noted by the aforementioned videographer whose film suddenly went wobbly. In mid January at Molloy Stanner, Yamoah literally did one better, setting the all-time state record at 17-1 (again, video at end of article). Over the next two months in the course of twelve straight wins, the marks were not quite as robust though three were at 16-6 or better. At States he again had some trouble at Cornell but did get to 15-0, which won over Nick O'Brien of Pine Bush on fewer misses. This time at the newly christened New Balanace Indoor Nationals at the Armory, though Yamoah vaulted more than a foot higher at 16-8 than in 2010, Andrew Irwin and Joey Uhle went over 17-0.

The final outdoor season in 2011 included a lot of highlights for Yamoah as he worked toward upping his state mark. He began the year by blasting away the Penn Relays record  and also topping his own state record as he repeated there with a 16-6.75 vault. He continued his winning habits with another win at Loucks and also a 16-3 mark at the Warwick Fast Times Relays, but in general his schedule was lighter so that he could save some oomph for a late season push. That surge began with a dominating win at States where he had the bar set at 16-7 so that he could break the NY record for a third time. A fourth time breaking the record came a week later at NBON as he cleared 16-8.75 for the silver medal.

After graduating from Arlington, Yamoah took a year off from vaulting before he again started competing with Texas A&M Kingsville, an NCAA D2 school. Yamoah was highly recruited by D1 powers such as the University of South Carolina, but a full scholarship to study kinesiology was too tempting to turn down. Starting in 2013 with wins at the NCAA D2 championships both indoors and outdoors, Yamoah would end up collecting four national titles and a top indoor height of 17-9 while taking the 2016 championship and then going 17-8.5 outdoors while winning the Angelo State Relays.

Before Yamoah started his string of state record breaking, the top mark was held by Joel Carusone of Guilderland who set state and meet records with a 16-5 vault at the States meet at Kingston in 1999. The closest anyone has come since is 16-6 by James Deutmeyer of Fordham Prep in 2014.

Jordan Yamoah breaks NY state indoor record at 17-0 December 19, 2010 at Section 1 Kickoff #2 at NY Armory. From a distance kind of spur-of-the-moment footage.

Jordan Yamoah breaks NY state indoor record at 17-1 January 15, 2011 at Molloy Stanner Games at NY Armory.

Yamoah interview from 2010 outdoor States after 16-6 state record.