Fogarty Breaks VHS Pole Vault Record That Stood For Four Decades

By on June 3, 2018

A vault for the record books.

Records are made to be broken, but some are incredibly unyielding. Since 1974, the Verona High School record for boys outdoor pole vault had stood at 13’6″, forty-four long years.

Yesterday, finally, it was broken. At the Group 1 track & field championship on June 2, 2018, just around 5 p.m., Owen Fogarty cleared 14′.

“It was a big goal of mine to hold the school record,” Fogarty said late last night. “One year of pole vaulting taught me that hard work really does pay off.”

Yes, you read that right. Fogarty, a sophomore, only started on pole vault during the spring of his freshman year. This February, he broke the VHS’ boys indoor pole vault record when he cleared 12’6″ at the indoor Group championship. It had been set at 12 feet in 2011 by Joshua Held, who graduated with the class of 2011. Breaking the outdoor record, set by Willie Taylor of the class of 1974, meant going 18 inches beyond that because the pole vault crossbar is raised in six-inch increments only. But it was a record, and records are made to be broken.

Fogarty, who trains at the indoor pole vaulting gym Apex Vaulting in Fairfield, moved to break it, winning the pole vault at every one of the VHS boys track dual meets this spring. On May 12, he he cleared 13′ at the SEC Track & Field championship and repeated the feat on May 19 at the Essex County Tournament to become the county pole vault champion. Yesterday, he cleared 13’6″ in his first attempt, tying the VHS record. The crossbar was raised, and when Fogarty made his first vault, the record was history.

Laura Palmerezzi, the VHS boys track and cross country coach, applauded Fogarty for his record-breaking work. “I am so proud of Owen and his accomplishments this season, especially today at Group Championships,” she said late yesterday. “Only being a sophomore and already clearing 14 feet is amazing. I am looking forward to his bright future in pole vault.”

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(Fogarty’s vault wasn’t the only VHS record to fall at Groups. The 4×800 team of Mark Walsh, Mike Maglione, David Navarro and Jason Siegelin broke their own school record again, running 8:24.70. Their previous record, set only a week ago, was 8:27.02. Siegelin, a senior, ended his VHS career by running a personal best in the separate 800m, of 2:00.31. Sophomore Isaac Skrivanic threw a personal best of 161’1″ in javelin.)

“It’s amazing whenever records fall, but when you add in that it’s been held for 44 years, it’s truly special,” said VHS Athletic Director Robert Merckler. “That is a great job by Owen and a credit to how hard he works. I know VHS, and especially his track coaches, are very proud of him.”

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Fogarty’s big breakthrough also got a shout-out from Rebecca Slotkin, who set the VHS’ girls outdoor pole vault record of 11’6″ as a senior in 2010. “A huge congratulation to Owen,” she said. “When I saw him jump a couple of weeks ago at Counties, you could see how close he was to getting the height, so it’s fantastic to see it happen before the end of the season.”

“This is just the beginning,” Slotkin added. “We’ll definitely be seeing Owen fly higher.”

Fogarty’s vault yesterday earned him second place in Group 1. He’ll be competing in the statewide Meet of Champions on June 9.

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