Ethan Staley

Clear Fork's Ethan Staley sprints down the runway during the pole vault competition at last week's Division II regional meet at Lexington High School.

MANSFIELD — Ethan Staley is soaring through rarified air.

The Clear Fork junior will head to this week’s Division II state track meet as one of the favorites in the pole vault competition.

Staley broke his own school record and took second at last week’s Lexington regional with a vault of 14-feet, 8-inches. Only four Division II vaulters in the state went 14-8 or higher during last week’s regional meets. Liberty Union’s Jimmy Rhoads has the top height after clearing 15-4 last week at Lex.

“Fifteen foot has been my goal all year,” Staley said last week. “I’ve got one more meet to do it.”

Staley is one of 11 Division II athletes headed to Pickerington North, site of the Division II meet. He will be in action at 10 a.m. Friday and will have some local company in the pole vault. Ontario’s Brennan Strickler, who finished third last week at Lexington, will join him.

Galion’s Caleb Branstetter will compete in the boys high jump competition after winning the regional title last week at Lex. Branstetter won with a leap of 6-6 and is one of just three Division II jumpers state-wide to go 6-6 or higher.

Shelby’s Connor Henkel will compete in the long jump competition after placing fourth at the Lexington regional. Henkel’s top leap of 21-2.25 came on his sixth and final jump.

Huck Finnegan, Henkel’s Shelby teammate, will compete in the 3,200 meter run. Finnegan placed fourth at Lexington.

On the girls side, Galion’s Samantha Comer and Shelby’s Kassie Stine will both compete in the high jump and the 100 hurdles. Comer was second in the hurdles and third in the long jump at Lex, while Stine was fourth in both the high jump and the 100 hurdles.

Shelby’s Haylee Baker and Kayla Gonzales both advanced to the state meet. Baker was third at the Lexington regional in the 400 while Gonzales was second in the 1,600.

Ontario’s Brie Trumpower will compete in the 800, while Clear Fork’s Bekah Conrad will compete in the shot put competition.

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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