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State track and field, Day 1, 5/17

Lincoln Southeast's Skyler Peterson clears the bar to win the Class A pole vault competition Friday at Omaha Burke Stadium.

OMAHA — Jesse Lewis already had the Class A boys triple jump won when the Lincoln Southwest senior came down the runway for his final jump Friday morning at Burke Stadium.

Skyler Peterson also had the Class A boys pole vault gold medal secured when the Lincoln Southeast senior made his final attempt at 15 feet. He just didn’t know it at the time.

His pole vault coach, Chris Johnson, told Peterson he needed to clear 15 feet in order to win, that Grant Island’s Levi Hesman would be champion based on fewer misses.

Johnson later found out that wasn’t the case and apologized to Peterson for the unnecessary scare. Peterson was totally OK with the false alarm.

“I’m glad he did it because he gave me the motivation to clear that bar (15-0),” said Peterson, who beat a competitive field that included six vaulters who went 14-0 or better.

It also provided the boost to go a personal-best 15-6¼, the winning height, on his next vault. Peterson went to 15-9 from there, but missed all three attempts at what would’ve been a Lincoln Public Schools record.

For Peterson, it capped off a season in which he wanted to turn last year’s silver medal into gold and erased his frustration early in the season when he felt he wasn’t hitting the heights he should have been.

“That killed me taking second last year,” said Peterson, who came into state with the momentum of going 15-0 in the two meets (Heartland Athletic Conference and districts) leading into state. “The whole season I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted, but Coach (Johnson) believed in me and kept telling me I would peak at the end, and that’s what happened.”

Peterson became the 11th boys LPS pole vaulter to become a state champion under Johnson. He called Peterson “a pretty special jumper who just kept getting better.

“He’s the first kid I’ve ever had on a 15-7 pole,” Johnson added. “I didn’t quite get it all out him, I would’ve loved to see him get 15-9. Minnesota State is getting a good one.”

Lewis’ winning leap of 45-3¼ came in the preliminaries and was well short of the Class A leading 47-5½ earlier this season. That’s why he didn’t take a relaxed approach to his final jump, even though the gold medal was secured.

“I was jumping like I was behind because I wanted the school record,” Lewis said. “Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not. I wanted to smash the school record, but I went a little too hard early in the week and my body just didn’t recover in time.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or rpowell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.

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Sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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