It's always a special moment at a track meet when the entire meet's attention turns to the high jump mat. We saw an awful lot of that when Kyle Garland was competing last season. As the Germantown Academy star enters his senior season, we expecting to see even more of it. Garland has an indoor best over five inches better than his next closest competitor, and the Georgia recruit isn't done making noise in PA and US high school track and field.
Garland cleared 6-10.75 at the indoor state meet last year, which broke the meet record. He'll chase the overall Pennsylvania indoor state record this winter, which stands at 7-0.25, set in 2005 by Octorara's Ryan Fritz. Garland, who will likely be looking to repeat as the pentathlon national champ this winter, did get over his career-best of 7-2 this past summer, and he'll chase the seven foot barrier this indoor campaign.
Garland trails just Nathan Patterson from Indiana on the national returner rankings, though both have the same outdoor PR. Patterson cleared 7-1 indoors last year.
So who else should we be watching for? Garland is, of course, the heavy favorite to repeat as state champ, but many others will be fighting for spots near the top of the state. No other medalists from indoor states are back this season, so a lot of fresh faces will be up on the podium.
Only Penn Hills' Emmanuel Mitchell and Pennridge's Vincent Polignano return from last year's state meet. Mitchell cleared a best of 6-5 earlier in the season and took 16th at indoor states. He ended up going over 6-6 outdoors and took third at states in AAA. Polignano cleared a best of 6-3 last winter. He ended up taking 10th at outdoor states and will look for a big winter as well.
Two others that went over 6-3 last winter were Ayden Owens of North Allegheny and Jordan Winslow of Milton Hershey. Owens cleared 6-3.25 while competing in the pentathlon at nationals last winter. He is very versatile, and while his energy might be directed in other events at the state meet, expect some big jumps from him. Winslow cleared 6-6 outdoors last spring, and should be in line for a solid winter.
One boy certainly worth watching for is Jonathon Squadrito of LaSalle College. He didn't qualify for indoor states last season, but made some big improvements into outdoors. At Shippensburg, for the PIAA T&F State Championships, Squadrito had the best day of his career in rough conditions and cleared 6-6 to claim the state title. Look for him to ride that momentum into his senior season.