Max Manson's Magnificent Weekend

Max Manson takes aim at Colorado pole vault history. Photo by Alan Versaw.

It began pretty much like every other weekend during indoor season. Meets to get to, bars to clear, new accomplishments to enjoy.

But, soon after Max Manson arrived at Steinhauer Field House late Friday afternoon, he learned some daunting news. The opening height for the pole vault competition was to be set at 4.06m (13-3.75).

The problem there would be that Manson had a newly minted pole vault PR of 12-8, set at last weekend's National Pole Vault Summit in Reno. In short, Manson really shouldn't have been entered in the meet. Manson did have a 13-foot clearance from a 2015 practice session but had never successfully ventured over anything like 4.06m.

But, what are you to do when you're already there, dressed out for competition and pole in hand? You go ahead and vault. About the worst thing that can happen is three misses and out.

Only something different happened this time. Without a lower height to break in on, Manson rose to the occasion and cleared the opening height at the CSM Twilight. That effort doubled as a personal record and the US #1 freshman mark for the 2016 indoor season.

The next opportunity in the pole vault schedule came Sunday at the Tony Wells Invitational. 

Maybe it was the fast runway at the Cadet Field House, or perhaps the history at that venue. Maybe it was an extra shot of confidence stimulated by Friday's success.

Whatever the reason--or, more likely, reasons--Manson found himself clearing bar after bar. Manson did reach a ceiling until he had cleared 14-1 (we will get a more precise metric measurement when the results for the Tony Wells Invitational are made public). 

Thus, in the scope of three days, Manson's PR mark has traveled the improbable distance of some 17 inches. 

More interesting still is the question of where this puts him in pole vault history, especially of the local variety. Manson's father Pat, who still owns the Colorado high school pole vault record, had a best clearance of 11-9 during the school year as a freshman. He upped that mark to 13-0 during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years.

Since Colorado Track XC started archiving marks in 2008, the best freshman mark recorded is 13-6, and that one is of doubtful authenticity. Phil Bourgeouis of Arapahoe High School shows up in the MileSplit database with precisely one mark--a 13-6 pole vault from the 2008 state track meet. The actual results for that meet give no indication of grade for Bourgeouis. But, the fact that there is only one mark in the database for him hints that a far more likely explanation is that he was a senior closing out his career at the state meet. The 2011 graduation year more likely got assigned to his profile sometime thereafter as a kluge to get his name off the active roster for Arapahoe High School.

If we assume that Bourgeouis was not a freshman at the time of his 13-6 clearance, the next best freshman clearance for Colorado is a 12-10 by Mountain View's Ramon Salgado in 2013. 

Nationally, of course, the freshman record belongs to Armand Duplantis at 16-9.5. It's likely a long time before that record is ever threatened, much less overtaken. Manson's 14-1 would place him at #4 on the end-of-season top freshman indoor marks for 2015. The mark would go to #7 on the end-of-season outdoor list. 

So, the same high school that graduated Andrew Barlow last spring barely misses a beat in their pole vault rotation. It would appear that the second Manson Era has taken flight in the Colorado high school pole vault.