By Christopher Hunt
CALEDONIA – Jordan Yamoah turned to the crowd after his last miss in the pole vault and responded to their cheers with a courteous bow. The Arlington senior put on quite a show, clearing the highest bar anyone has ever seen in New York and winning his second straight state federation championship.
Yamoah, who signed with Texas A&M- Kingsville, cleared 16 feet, 7 inches, bettering the state record he set at Penn Relays in April by one half-inch Friday at the New York State Championships at Caledonia-Mumford.
“Getting that state record matters,” Yamoah said. “It shows that I’m getting back to my normal self.”
Yamoah has been battling a laundry list of injuries this season. He is no stranger to competing with pain however. Yamoah won the state championship last year, while setting the junior class record at 16-6, a week after tearing his meniscus at the state qualifier.
He is the only athlete in the state to clear 17-feet indoors or outdoors. Yamoah cleared 17-1 indoors but yet to reach that height the spring. On two of his three failed attempts at 17 feet Friday, Yamoah didn’t get inverted. He’ll be aiming for the 17-foot bar again next week at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals.
“I think I just psyched myself out on the last attempt,” he said. “On the first two attempts I just bent the pole too much and I wasn’t getting the recoil. I got on my (biggest pole) on the last attempt and I think I just psyched myself out. I’ve only been on that pole twice before.”
In the 3,200, Tim Luthin of Warwick Valley probably should have taken a bow himself. Luthin tucked into a pack with Chad Noelle of Greene and Washingtonville’s Martin Hehir until 500 meters left when Noelle began to break free.
Luthin latched on when Noelle moved. But Noelle appeared to be running comfortably the entire race. He looked over his shoulder multiple times to check for Luthin on the bell lap and when Luthin tried to move with 300 meters Noelle bolted.
“I thought he was saving it for (the 1,600) tomorrow,” Luthin said. “The second to last lap was kind of slow, so that played right into what I wanted to do.”
Noelle charged down the backstretch in an attempt to drop Luthin but the Stanford-bound senior covered the move stride-for-stride. Noelle gained a slight separation before the last turn to Luthin erased it then moved again on the home straightaway to edge Noelle, an Oregon signee, for the federation title in 8:58.92. It was Luthin’s first time under 9 minutes. Noelle finished second overall, but still earned the Division II state title, in 8:59.03.
“The only person that’s been able to outkick me on the last lap is Chris FitzSimons (of Hamden, Conn., now a freshman at Villanova), so I was pretty confident in my kick,” Luthin said. “I didn’t think I would beat Chad Noelle today.”
Liverpool’s Zavon Watkins won his first 800 federation championship in 1:51.32. Watkins, Ryan Brennan of Monroe-Woodbury and Strymar Livingston of Columbus had all planned on making an attempt to break 1:50 but a slow start buried their chances,
“I was waiting for someone to pace it,” Watkins said. “No one wanted to take it. Everyone was trying to do the same thing.”
Brennan took the front once everyone cut to the inside after 300 meters but carried the field through the 400 mark in 55.5. Watkins knew he needed to move.
“I thought Ryan was going fast enough but when we got to the 400 I just felt like I had so much left,” said Watkins, who will attempt to double in the 1,600 Saturday. “That’s how I knew we were slow. So I had to go.”
Middletown continued its dominant spring season in the sprints led by Mel Mosley, who won the Division I 400 in 47.31. Mosley pulled even with Andre Jordan of Medgar Evers at the halfway mark then blew the race open in the last 200. Jordan finished in 48.79 to advance to Saturday’s federation championship.
The race wasn’t even the toughest part of Mosley’s trip. His team found bedbugs in their hotel room Thursday night and piled eight-deep into Mosley’s room for the night.
“I had to sleep on the box bed,” Mosley said. “They jumped me for the soft bed.”
Webb Pierre discovered the first bedbug in his room and him and his teammates cleared out. Pierre caught one of the bugs and brought to the coaches in the morning for evidence. Coach Eric Hipsman checked the team into another hotel Friday morning.
“Overall, it was a pretty good day,” Pierre said. “None of us got any sleep. The most we could have gotten was two hours.”
Pierre’s heroics didn’t stop there. He put the team in front on the third leg of the 4x400, as the Middies, behind Mel Mosley’s 46.6 anchor, won the Division I 4x400 in 3:15.35. Even after he saved his team in the hotel, Pierre still felt like he needed to prove something on the relay.
“Mel didn’t have any faith in me,” Pierre said. “He kept asking me a bunch of questions. ‘Are you sure you can run this? Are you sure?’ I just wanted to show him that he can have faith in me. I wanted to make sure I ran well.”
Middletown’s one hiccup came in the 400 hurdles. Manny Mosley, Mel’s twin brother, crossed the line first in 52.68, which would have been good for the fastest time in the state this season. But Mosley was called for hooking hurdles 6 and 7 on the last turn and disqualified, stripping him of the win and a chance to race for the federation title Saturday.
Longwood’s Joe Payton was awarded the win in Division I. He finished in 53.46. Jeremiah Obeng-Agyapong of Clinton (PSAL) will have the fastest time headed into Saturday’s final in 53.41.
Medgar Evers posted the fastest time headed into the federation final in the 4x100, finishing in 41.93. Sheepshead Bay’s Royce Bolston had the top mark in the long jump at 24-1 and Shane Green of Erasmus, who only took one jump, had the best mark in the triple jump at 48-2.25. Leshawn Johnson of Baldwin also won the Division I discus with a throw off 178-7 and Kings Park’s Brandon Reynolds claimed the D-I shot put in 53-6.
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisHuntArmory.