Cape vaulter Sam Young clears 14 feet at The Cage

January 24, 2014

Cape junior Sam Young cleared 14 feet in the pole vault to take third at the Yale High School Invitational held Jan. 18 at the unique Coxe Cage facility in New Haven, Conn. It was the best indoor performance in the history of Cape Henlopen and currently ranks fifth all-time in Delaware. Only one Cape vaulter, the late Bill Zimmerman, has jumped higher, as Zimmerman holds the Cape outdoor record of 14-feet-3-inches. Young was in some tough company at Yale, as the top two vaulters went over 15 feet.

In the world of high school pole-vaulting, there are a ton of athletes who jump in the 13s, but when an athlete begins to write 14 on his resumé, college coaches looking for vaulters begin to take notice. Doing it in his junior year is icing on the cake for Young.

The top five Delaware performances include the following: 15-6, Darwin Gibbons, Caravel, 2009; 15-3, Michael Jenson, Appoquinmink, 2013; 14-8, Brandon Stacy, Caravel, 2014; 14-6, Randolph Faulkner, Smyrna, 2002; 14-0, Sam Young and Matt Pafford, Cape/Caravel, 2014/2010.

The Cage

I did some research on the Coxe Cage on Yale's athletic website. It's the home of the Yale men's and women's indoor track and field team. I found it a very interesting facility and wanted to share with my readers. In 2005, Coxe Cage underwent major renovations, with the installation of a banked Mondo track as well as a Mondo infield. The renovations came as a result of the generosity of Donald M. Roberts, class of '57, who named the track the Frank Shorter '69 Track, to honor the former Yale cross country captain and two-time Olympic medalist. The track is one of the premier venues in the United States and provides Yale athletes with an unparalleled training and competition facility. A new digital scoreboard was installed as well.

Georgetown's Andrew Bumbalough, who ran a 3:58.46 mile on the Frank Shorter '69 Track in 2008, said, "It's an incredible facility with a banked track that provides a much faster running surface than the flat tracks generally do at a lot of schools. It's a really nice surface. The facility itself is older-looking, but it's a very natural and rustic environment to run in."

The Cage was named for Charles Edmund Coxe (1893), a hammer thrower on Yale's squad. Legend has it that Coxe, who was charged with raising funds for the new facility, could not be bothered with such efforts and instead offered the necessary $300,000 to build the facility on the stipulation that it be named for him. Yale accepted the offer and began construction on what was then considered to be one of the largest structures of its kind in the world.  To this day, its 26,000-square-foot skylight is among the largest anywhere. At the time of the Cage's construction, its track was designed to be one of the fastest in the East. At the opening ceremony for the new facility, Yale's half-mile relay team ran an exhibition in a time of 1:32.4, better than any previous indoor mark.

Coxe Cage also underwent major renovations in 1982 and 1988. All field events can be contested within the oval, including the shot put and weight throw. The Coxe Cage and the William Clay Ford Indoor Track Center have played host to many major championship meets, including multiple ECAC championships and national scholastic championships.

Jumper Savage grabs a pole

My favorite all-time pole vault story was from my jumper, Willie Savage, state champion in the long, triple and high jump and 110-meter hurdles multiple times. Willie was entered in the East Coast Invitational High School Decathlon Championships at George Mason University in the early '90s, having never vaulted in competition before and only a few days at practice. Willie was leading the stacked competition after day one and there he was starting day two at 8 a.m. hanging out with the dedicated pole-vaulters. Willie started networking with the competition and before I knew it, there they were, showing him where to place his hands, how many steps to take, and what to do in the air. The competition started, and Savage was over clean at 10-0, 10-6, 11-0, and two misses at 11-6. With three athletes remaining, Willie decided he needed a longer pole. After talking with one of the athletes and borrowing his new fiberglass pole, Willie sprinted down the runway and cleared 11-6 by a foot. Willie cleared 12-0 on his first attempt, and now it was down to the final two jumpers. Willie missed at 12-6 on the first and second attempts, and his competitor made 12-6 on his second attempt. Willie cleared 12-6 on his final attempt in a beautiful six-inch clearance. The PA announcer came over the intercom: “All decathlon hurdlers report to the start for the 110m final.” Willie shook hands with his competitor and ran off to the hurdles, while the North Carolina athlete missed all three attempts at 13-0. Willie Savage never pole vaulted again, but went on to win the decathlon by scoring more than 7,000 points, ranking him in the top three in the United States.

Upcoming races

1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, 5K Run to the Plunge, Bandstand, Rehoboth Beach,

10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, 9th Valentine's Day 5K & 1M Walk, Fishing Pier, Cape Henlopen State Park,

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