Martin, Bazinet earn matching Class LL pole vault titles for NFA indoor track
New Haven — As has happened so often in recent seasons, Norwich Free Academy filled the frames of a track meet with news of the pole vault.
Paige Martin: Set the meet record and vaulted a personal best at Thursday's Class LL championship at the Floyd Little Athletic Center with a leap of 12 feet, 3.5 inches, repeating as state champion.
Martin's pole vaulting counterpart on the boys' side, Jack Bazinet: Also repeated as Class LL state champion, finishing with a jump of 13-8. Bazinet's victory came less than a year after he suffered an avulsion fracture vaulting during an outdoor dual meet at East Lyme.
"I'm super excited," said Martin, who later raised the bar to 12-9.5, trying to eclipse the overall state record of 12-9, but missed all three attempts. "I know I had the height for it (at 12-9.5); the third attempt, I think I was really close."
Martin officially won the title when she cleared 11-6, outdueling Glastonbury's Mallory Malz. Martin took some time to give Malz a pep talk after Malz missed her second straight attempt, putting her hands on Malz's shoulders and appearing to calm her competitor prior to her final jump.
Martin then cleared 11-9.5, giving her the meet record which previously belonged to Southington's Megan Biscoglio at 11-8. Then she vaulted 12-3, eclipsing her personal best of 12-2.
And on she went jumping into the night, with Malz returning to the jumping area to cheer her on.
"It was a little nervewracking," Bazinet said of his victory. "I wanted to put some points on the board for NFA. It's really nice (for NFA, which won the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I title two weeks ago) to have a team, not just a bunch of events. We're working hard to be a team ... whether it's just holding blocks or cheering for people."
Bazinet jumped 14-2 during the indoor season a year ago before suffering an injury outdoors. As he leapt that day, a muscle pulled a piece of bone away from his pelvis. It created, certainly, some trepidation as he resumed pole vaulting several months later.
"A little bit," said Bazinet, who healed through rest and physical therapy, not requiring surgery. "But I knew, 'If I'm going to do this, I've got to do it 100 percent.' I'm not holding anything back. I didn't want to take any half attempts at anything."
NFA's other champions Thursday were junior Kayla Park in the girls' 1,000 meters in 3 minutes, 2.48 seconds and senior Osaretin Osagie in the boys' 55 hurdles in 7.58 seconds, with Osagie just shy of qualifying for nationals.
The NFA girls finished fourth with 38 points. Glastonbury won the title with 69. The boys were fifth with 34 points. Hall was the boys' champion with 48, edging Ridgefield (47) and Conard (44).
"It's an awesome moment. I'm at a loss for words, honestly," said Park, who won the first state championship of her career.
Park said prior to Thursday's meet, she had been struggling with "trying to find my place in races."
"Just being confident," she said.
As if the NFA junior, who won the 3,200 and the 300 meters in back-to-back events at last year's ECC indoor meet, a nearly unheard of double, isn't talented enough. Soccer, though, is her first love. Park's mom, Kristina, played soccer and still competes in local recreation leagues.
"I don't know why I lack the confidence," Park said. "I haven't really applied myself. (But this season), I want to get better times. I run on the weekends. I run when nobody else is running."
Park started the day by running a leg on the 4x800 relay team which was fifth in 9:45.78. She joined Makayla Kelley, Catie Shannon and Sophia Jones.
After that race she had about 30-35 minutes before the 1,000, she said — "I threw up real quick," Park said.
She later finished sixth in the 1,600 in 5:18.22.
Osagie repeated his title of a year ago despite getting off to a poor start out of the blocks.
"Honestly, it's a blur," Osagie said of the race, "knowing every single person I'm racing, even in the prelims, had a chance to win. ... By the grace of God, I want to qualify for nationals."
Other boys' place-winners for NFA were Justin Costick, third in the high jump (6-2); Andrew Cote, third in the 600 (1:24.60); Osagie, sixth in the long jump (20-2.5); and Anthony Chong, sixth in the pole vault (12-0).
Other girls' place-winners were Hannah Elliot, third in the pole vault (10-6); Madison Martin, fourth in the pole vault (9-6); Kelley, who won the second heat of the 1,000 and placed fourth overall (3:08.71); and Jasmyn Bransford, sixth in the long jump (16-2.25).
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