Valley City High School senior Paul Viland only has a certain amount of focus on the state track and field meet this early in the season.
He’ll likely make the cut sooner or later.
Instead, the pole vaulter has a number on his mind — 13 feet, 4 inches.
“That will break the school record by an inch,” he said.
It’s the ultimate goal for the senior, who picked up pole vaulting in middle school and is continually breaking his personal best in the event.
He nearly did it again Thursday at the Hi-Liner Invitational Thursday at Loken Stadium, when he tied his personal best of 12 feet, but narrowly missed getting over the 12-foot-6-inch mark, which would have automatically qualified him for state.
The Hi-Liners took third as a team, finishing with 87 points at the meet. Jamestown won with 226 and Kindred took second with 148.5.
Against the class B competition, Viland had little issue getting the win in the vault, beating his closest opponent by three feet.
It’s a success that comes with years of experience, and, quite simply, a lot of practice.
“He went to a few clinics this summer and right away here in the spring,” Valley City coach Trevor Bakalar said. “He’s contining to put the time in and it shows.”
Viland puts it more simply.
“I keep trying higher,” he said.
Viland got started pole vaulting in middle school.
“I saw it and thought it looked awesome, so I joined it,” he said.
It was as awesome as he’d hoped and he’s kept with it. Viland’s now hitting heights nearly double those he hit in middle school.
Assuming he qualfies, this season would be his third consecutive trip to state. Last year he placed ninth with a height of 11-feet-6-inches, a foot below his target Thursday.
Bakalar said the key to Viland’s success this season will be whether or not he can stay consistent with his vaults.
“It’s one of those things where you have to have consistency,” Bakalar said. “It can’t just be every now and then, unless it’s at state.”
It will also be a test for Viland to refine all his fundamentals and form.
But breaking the vaulting record of 13-feet-3-inches, set by Justin Jacob in 2006, is a goal that Bakalar considers achievable.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a pole vaulter that’s been consistent like he has,” Bakalar said. “If he can put it all together, it’s a great goal for him.”
Nick Lee was the only other Valley City team member to win an event, finishing the 3,200 meter run in 11:12.32. Lee also took second place in the 1,600 meter run, finishing in 4:57.28, two seconds behind Jamestown’s Jake Nieland.
Dustin Lindgren took fifth in the 100 meter dash, Dereck Durheim took fifth in the 200 meter dash and Colin Naeseth and Casey Engelhard took fourth and fifth in the 400 dash.
The Hi-Liners also won the 4x100 relay.
On the field, Durheim finished third in the long jump for the Hi-Liners, Kyle Knutson took fourth in the triple jump, and Engelhard took fourth in the high jump. Steven Horner placed fourth in the javelin.
BCN takes fourth
Barnes County North took fourth at the meet with 78 points.
Wyatt Steckler led the way for the Bison, winning the 100 meter dash and taking second in the 200 meter dash. William Gerntholz also won the 400 meter dash.