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Burnet’s Hill wins state pole vaulting championship, Rygaard finishes sixth

CAPTION: Burnet junior pole vaulter Brayden Hill stands atop of the podium wearing his Class 4A championship gold medal May 11. Courtesy photo

Burnet High School junior pole vaulter Brayden Hill is the 2023 Class 4A state champion after clearing 15 feet on his second attempt May 11 at Mike Myers Stadium at the University of Texas at Austin campus.

Teammate Brady Rygarrd, a junior, finished tied for sixth thanks to clearing 14 feet.

“I was proud of the guys for coming in top nine in the state,” head coach Ben Speer said. “Anytime you walk away with points at state is a good day. The pressure wasn’t too big for them.”

Hill was among the favorites to win gold and performed like it by clearing 14-0 on his first attempt. He needed two attempts at 14-6 and two at 15-0.

Speer said he was confident Hill could clear 15-3 after watching him clear 15-0. That’s because he had a lot of space between his body and the bar at 15-0. But 15-3 will have to wait another day.

“I believe he’s the first (to win a state title in pole vaulting for Burnet),” Speer said. “That’s cool making history. He was calm and soaked it all in.”

Rygaard cleared 14-0 on his first attempt but didn’t clear 14-6 in three attempts.

“Super proud of Brady,” the coach said. “It’s great placement for a junior and super excited he’s coming back. He’s chasing Brayden. It’s great and fun.”

One challenge for pole vaulters is the placement of the pole vault pit at Mike Myers Stadium. It’s about two feet from the crowd. Most pole vault pits are in the center of a stadium.

“There’s nothing that prepares you for Mike Myers Stadium until you there,” Speer said. “There’s no other place like it in the country. The only thing that prepares you for it is the Texas Relays. We should (get invited) to that now. It’s really going to be exciting to see what they can do.”

As he spoke, Speer reflected on an interesting 2023 season. Because of the construction around the athletic facilities, it took awhile for the vaulters to get their pit. But once they got it and their equipment, they were unstoppable the rest of the way. Families, friends and Burnet track and field coaches watched the Bulldogs compete at the state meet and shared in the joy, Speer said.

“The community gets to see where they put investment, and it pays off,” he said. “It helps in training and facilities. It’s fun when you meet up with other people wearing Burnet gear. It’s one of those special things. It’s not guaranteed. It’s a moment when you get to sit on top of the podium.”

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CAPTION: Brayden Hill (left) and Brady Rygaard listen to instructions from officials before competing in the pole vault at the Class 4A state meet May 11. Courtesy photo

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