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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | TRACK AND FIELD

Haleck Appears to Have Found Keys to Vault

April 26, 2001|JOHN ORTEGA

There are two ways of explaining why Makisi Haleck of Thousand Oaks High has added only an inch to his career best in the boys' pole vault since the start of the season.

Perhaps the senior peaked too early and will improve marginally, if at all, in the final five weeks of the season.

Or maybe his consistency at the 15-foot level indicates he's on the verge of a breakthrough.

John Stringer, one of two pole vault coaches at Thousand Oaks, says it's the latter.

"Whenever you start seeing kids vault consistently at any height, whether it's 11 feet or 15 feet, it indicates that they're ready for a big improvement," Stringer said. "Makisi is ready to go a lot higher."

Haleck, who has accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy, cleared a school record of 15-7 to place first at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut on Saturday and had two close attempts at 16-1.

"He was over the bar on his second attempt," Stringer said. "But he hit the bar coming down."

The 15-7 effort tied Haleck for the highest vault ever by a high school athlete from Ventura County, but he doesn't expect to be tied with Chuck Houde, former Simi Valley standout, for long.

"My goal is 16-6," he said. "I think I can do that in a good meet."

Haleck, who will compete in the Ventura County championships at Moorpark High on Friday, began vaulting as a freshman at the urging of a friend.

He knew little about the pole vault, but the avid in-line skater said it "looked like a lot of fun and was a little different that just running, running, running."

He cleared "around 10 feet" as a freshman before improving to 13 feet as a sophomore and to a school-record 15 feet last year, when he won the Ventura County and Southern Section Division II titles.

He raised his best to 15-6 in an all-comers meet at Cal State Northridge in January and equaled it in a meet against Simi Valley last month.

"The middle of my sophomore year is when I really started to get serious," Haleck said. "When I hit 13 feet as a sophomore, I started to think that I had a chance to jump as high as some of the other good high schoolers in the state."

A strong work ethic has contributed to Haleck's improvement, but so has a growth spurt. He has grown from a 5-foot-7, 130-pound freshman to a 6-3, 160-pound senior.

"When you're that tall, you can jump on longer poles and hold higher [up] on them, which gives you better leverage," Stringer said. "If you have the body strength and the speed, you can hold higher on the pole over time and that will allow you to go higher."

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Construction of an all-weather track at Thousand Oaks has prevented the Lancers from holding home meets this season, but third-year Coach Robert Radnoti hopes a new, nine-lane, 400-meter oval will be completed by early June.

"This has been a really tough year for us," Radnoti said. "We're down about 100 kids in the program and a lot of that is because we don't have a track.

"We think a lot of kids were interested in coming out, but decided not to when they found out we didn't have a track."

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Schquay Brignac of Taft is undefeated in the girls' high jump this season, but the defending state champion hasn't always jumped higher than competitors.

Rather, she has excelled under the tie-breaking procedures used in the event.

Brignac, who has signed with Washington State, placed first in the Pasadena Games on March 31, the Arcadia Invitational on April 14 and the Mt. SAC Relays on Saturday. But at least one jumper in each of those meets cleared the same height.

Emily Forsythe of Crescenta Valley and Brignac cleared 5-8 in the Pasadena Games, but Brignac won because she cleared it on her first attempt and Forsythe did it on her third.

Chaunte Howard of Riverside North and Rachael Ziemann of Huntington Beach Edison cleared 5-8 along with Brignac at Arcadia, but Brignac won on fewer misses.

Ziemann, Aoife Keane of San Francisco St. Ignatius, Jessica Carter of Long Beach Poly and Brignac all cleared 5-6 at Mt. SAC, but Brignac won because she cleared it on her first attempt while the others did it on their second or third.

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Highland ranks among the most well-traveled programs in the state.

Many of the Bulldogs' top athletes have competed in meets in Tucson, Knoxville, Tenn., and Vancouver, Canada, and will compete in the Brigham Young Invitational on Saturday in Provo, Utah.

"It's fun," said senior sprinter Seth Amoo.

"It's a great opportunity to race against all these other people from other states. Running against the same people [from Southern California] week after week can get kind of boring."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top 10

Rankings of track and field teams from the region

BOYS

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RK LW School (League) 1 1 Taft (West Valley) 2 2 Birmingham (West Valley) 3 3 Rio Mesa (Pacific View) 4 4 Palmdale (Golden) 5 5 Notre Dame (Mission) 6 6 Valencia (Foothill) 7 7 Cleveland (West Valley) 8 8 Hueneme (Pacific View) 9 9 Canyon (Foothill) 10 10 Royal (Marmonte)

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GIRLS

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