Shorts trip up vaulter on final try

Written by Brad Mosher, The Observer April 26, 2013 10:21 am

Elgin pole vaulter Stephen Howes almost clears 12 feet  Thursday, only to have his shorts knock the crossbar down. (BRAD MOSHER/The Observer)
Elgin pole vaulter Stephen Howes almost clears 12 feet Thursday, only to have his shorts knock the crossbar down. (BRAD MOSHER/The Observer)

by BRAD MOSHER / The Observer 

ELGIN — Stephen Howes had a wardrobe malfunction Thursday.

It didn’t cost him a victory in the ICUE track meet — just a new personal best. 

The Elgin junior cleared 11 feet, 6 inches, winning the pole vault competition by a 2-foot margin over Gage Jarman of Joseph.

But, his wardrobe cost Howes a second personal record of the competition.

Vaulting alone after the rest of the field had been eliminated, Howes was down to one last jump at 12 feet.

He planted the pole right. He pulled himself up and over the bar — or so he thought. 

“I didn’t feel anything. I thought I cleared it,” he said.

He had cleared it. It was his shorts that didn’t clear the bar. The shorts had blown open during the vault and when he twisted his body to clear the bar the shorts on his left hip brushed the bar off the supports.

For Howes, it was a little frustrating. 

“I’ve cleared 12-6 in practice,” he said.

For his vaulting coach Justis Weaver, it was the opportunity to joke about switching to a tighter uniform style. “We’ll get you some spandex,” the coach said.

Howes has another chance this week to better his new PR when the Huskies compete Saturday at the annual Pepsi Invitational at Union.

His best of 11-6 puts Howes fifth among the 2A vaulters, but his wardrobe malfunction kept the vaulter from a tie for first. 

Reedsport’s Hayden Hinslaw and Corey Sledge of Culver both have cleared 12 feet.

Howes came back strong Thursday afternoon after an earlier vault went wrong and he fell sideways into one of the supports and off the pad. He wasn’t hurt.

The junior is aiming to get his new best Saturday. 

“I know I can do it. I have done it in practice,” Howes said. “I just have to do it in a meet.”