UPPER DARBY — Upper Darby assistant track and field coach Michelle Ezzie has seen this record-breaking day coming for months.
Radnor’s sophomore Sophia Hill had already pole vaulted 12-foot-4 on the outside to break Ezzie County’s Delaware County record of 11-9, set in 2001. All that was left was for Hill to set a new encounter record for the Delco Girls’ Championships, bettering the mark shared by Ezzie. with Brooke McDonald of Upper Darby (2008) at 10-6.
Hill slid almost effortlessly over the bar at 10-6 on his first attempt on a usually sunny 74-degree day, with a large crowd cheering him on.
On his next jump, Hill made 11 feet just as easily. It earned him another round of kudos from Ezzie and an impressive following of opponents, three of whom jumped 9-0 or more.
“It was cool to do it with her here,” Hill said of Ezzie. “She’s always been so good to me. When I didn’t have a specific pole vault coach, she helped me last season. And I always loved her. She is awesome.”
It was the only field record that fell at the Women’s Field Championships at Upper Darby High. The running events end Friday from 3:30 p.m. Rain or shine, follow the people.
Although Hill was the only jumper left in the competition when she set the record, the sport has come a long way at Delco since Ezzie and McDonald made their mark.
The Episcopal Academy’s Erinne Bresler cleared 9-6 on vault to take second, Annalise Kuhn of Strath Haven and Lauren Troy of Penncrest both cleared 9-0. Kuhn was third, Troy fourth based on fewer misses.
Those numbers almost brought a sentimental tear to the eye of Ezzie, an Upper Darby School District teacher who loves passing on her trade secrets to the next generation.
“I’m lucky to have witnessed this today,” Ezzie said. “I love pole vaulting and seeing these kids love it and someone like Sophia breaking records is just special. I’m really happy to see it.
Hill is gifted beyond her years, according to Ezzie and some of the other coaches milling around the pole vault pit Thursday. The only left-hander in the event, she is a blurry sprint down the track with the 15-foot pole in her hands. The final extension and flip of the bar produces pure euphoria.
“It’s awesome, it’s just awesome,” Hill said. “And today there was such a fun crowd. It definitely excites me. It’s so much fun. I plant it and I should have thoughts, but I don’t. I mean, I try to think, ‘get upside down, keep your feet together’, all mechanics. But once I plant it, I go. I know my muscle memory will take me from there.
Hill didn’t go 11-6 in that encounter, though her first two jumps of the day would have easily thrown her over 12 feet. There is always time to go back.
Hill cleared 12-6 indoors this season, which is Delco’s women’s indoor record.
“For a second year, she’s very advanced,” Ezzie said. “She’s pretty much reversed and finishes it like someone in college, which is pretty cool to see. She jumped here last year, and I was like, ‘Sophie, you’re going to have a lot of records. Great things are about to happen. It’s great for her and it’s great for the sport too, because it means a more competitive Delco is here.
Among other competitors in the field events, Steph May of Garnet Valley threw the javelin with a personal best 102ft 4in, a gold medal performance that was 19ft beyond his longest throw previous.
Upper Darby’s Alice Etienne defended her triple jump title, compiling a jump, jump and jump 35-6. Cardinal O’Hara’s Samantha Sharrow finished second with a 34-2 jump. Destiny Cofield (33-8.5) and Kyndra Dale (31-5) of the Royals finished third and sixth, joining Etienne at the medal ceremony.
“I had fun, it was great,” said Etienne. “My teammates were with me. I don’t think about it. I just jump.
Sharrow finished first in the long jump with a 16-4.5 record.
In the shot put, Alexa Brown of Strath Haven recorded a top 10 shot of 43-0.5. Haverford’s Mollie Carpenter (35-8) finished second in the event. Haverford’s Sydney Jones won the high jump clearing the bar at 5-3.
Delco Christian’s Evezi Omuyeh won the discus (107-0) and was fourth in the shot put (32-2.5).
The day, of course, belonged to pole vaulters old and new. When Ezzie approached Hill after setting the meet record, she made a friendly request.
“I said congratulations,” Ezzie said. “And keep setting it higher.”