Marysville’s Brynn Rychlik clears the pole vault bar during the Division I state track and field meet at Hilliard Darby. Rychlik placed sixth during the competition that was held Saturday morning. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The weather could not have been more perfect for the pole vault event.
It was a bit warm Saturday morning at Hilliard Darby High School.
However, there was no wind to speak of and precipitation wasn’t to be found.
It was nothing like the chilly, windy mess a week earlier when Marysville senior Brynn Rychlik won the Division I regional title at Pickerington North High School.
Rychlik went into the D-I state competition on Saturday, hoping to add that final milestone gold medal to her 2021 collection.
It didn’t happen.
Rychlik had earlier captured top honors in the event during the Ohio Capital Conference (Cardinal Division), district and regional meets.
A state championship would have capped a perfect season.
Perfection, however, is difficult to achieve in any walk of life, let alone athletics.
The MHS standout discovered that when she placed sixth with a height of 12-4 among the state’s best prep vaulters.
That was shy of the 12-8 she vaulted to win the regional title and nearly a foot below her outdoor MHS girls school mark of 13-3 she established earlier this spring.
Abby Knouff of Walsh Jesuit won the title at 12-8.
“I’m OK,” Rychlik said afterwards with a sad smile.
The competition began at 11 feet. The bar advanced to 11-6 and then 12 feet.
Rychlik entered the fray at 12 feet when there were 11 of the original 18 vaulters still in contention for the title.
Uncharacteristically, the Monarch senior missed on her first attempt at 12.
She came back a few minutes later and cleared it with ease.
The same pattern remained when the bar was elevated to 12-4.
The event was down to the top eight vaulters by that time.
Rychlik once again missed her first opportunity at that height, but cleared it on the second.
Staring at a bar of 12-6, Rychlik missed the first attempt.
There appeared to be nothing to worry about, as that had been her pattern on her first two heights.
Her second try at 12-6 also resulted in the referee’s red flag, signaling an errant effort.
Rychlik’s third and final attempt was also a miss, ending her day with a sixth-place finish.
“I went with a bigger pole, hoping to get a better bend at 12-6,” said Rychlik. “I felt comfortable with it, but I didn’t swing all the way up.”
“The never-ending physics problem that is the pole vault proved to be extra complicated on Saturday,” said Marysville head coach Luke Sundermeier. “However, that doesn’t take away from Brynn’s incredible season.
“She’s disappointed now, but that’s the competitor in her,” he said. “However, she earned All-Ohio honors (with her sixth-place podium finish) in her first state track meet.”
Rychlik is the first Lady Monarch track and field athlete to earn All-Ohio honors since distance runner Jackie Conrad in 1996, according to Sundermeier.
The coach also noted Rychlik’s progression in the event over the past few years.
“Brynn cleared 8-6 as an eighth-grader and was at 9-6 as a freshman,” he said. “She then went 10-0 as a sophomore.
“Since we didn’t have a 2020 season (due to the coronavirus pandemic), she went into this season as a 10-foot vaulter,” he said. “She ended up setting our girls indoor (13-0) and outdoor (13-3) school records.
“In a year full of anxiety and uncertainty, Brynn consistently gave us all something to rally around,” said Sundermeier. “Our young athletes continue to dream big because of people like Brynn.”
Rychlik will continue her vaulting career at the University of Akron.
“Brynn’s best vaulting is in front of her,” said Sundermeier.