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ADDING TO THE LORE: Union/A-C Valley’s Smith Breaks Meet and Facility Record in High Jump at Prestigious Butler Invitational

BUTLER, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Hayden Smith’s legs were burning.

The senior on the Union/A-C Valley boys track and field team had a heavy workload over the past two weeks — not only in his signature event, the high jump, but in the long jump, hurdles and sprints as well.

Smith battled through the fatigue at the 59th Annual Butler Invitational on a raw Friday evening, moving through heights with ease.

He cleared 6 feet, 11 inches on his first attempt to break the Art Bernardi Stadium and Butler Invite record to secure a gold medal. He moved up to 7-1 and clipped the bar with his elbow on his first and best attempt at the height.

No matter. Smith, a two-time PIAA champion, had already added to his lore.

“It means a lot because coming into this meet I wanted that record,” Smith said. “It’s my last year, and that record has stood since 1996. So I wanted it.”

Kevin Hohol of Hempfield held the mark in the high jump at 6-10½ for 28 years until Smith came along and snapped it.

Smith soared easily over the bar at 6-11, which prompted him to shoot for 7-1 instead of moving up to seven-even — a longtime goal of his to clear.

“(Jumping coach Dave Sherman) said, ‘Just go for it,’” Smith said. “Seven feet has always been my dream and the guy running it talked to me and said I can take it down to seven, but it’s gonna take a little bit of time because I gotta put it in the computer. I didn’t want to take the chance of not being warm anymore, so we just stayed at 7-1.”

Smith said he was concerned because of the soreness he felt in his legs leading up to and during the competition.

But adrenaline is a powerful thing, and it kicked in because Smith was pushed at one of the biggest early season meets in the state.

Noah Crozier of North East matched Smith jump for jump, clearing 6-9 on his third and final attempt before bowing at with three misses at 6-11.

Smith’s jump of 6-11 is currently tied for the best in the state this season.

“My legs hurt, but I took extra time warming up,” Smith said. “Just overuse. I cut out the long jump and hurdles today.”

Smith may cut back more, especially this week.

Next weekend is the Penn Relays, where Smith is hoping to get that elusive seven-foot mark.

“Today was awesome because I have the Penn Relays coming up and this just gives me so much confidence going into that meet,” Smith said. “I’m going against another guy there who is in that seven-foot range, so it’s gonna be awesome. Competition is just what I need right now. I just need those reps at those higher heights.”

Sherman also said Smith may dial back on some of his other events soon.

“He’s been doing the long jump, hurdles and the sprint relay,” Sherman said. “And I think that’s good. I think back to when we were in school, we were always of the mindset that you get everything you can out of a kid, get as many points as you can. However, in this situation, we might need to take a step back from that.”

Sherman said despite some of Smith’s fatigue, he still had explosion over the bar.

“What I saw at 6-11, he could have gotten over 7-1 plus,” Sherman said. “I said if he could just replicate that, he’d do it. He just clipped his arm on the bar on his first attempt and then the fatigue really set in. His legs were sore and we need to get them un-sore. He’s been the model of consistency.”


St. Marys junior Gabby Pistner won the girls 1,600-meter run with a personal-best time of 5 minutes, 1.40 seconds. That’s a top 10 time in the state so far this season. 

Pistner also won the 1-mile at 5:03.11.

Her teammate, Mary Defilippini was seventh on the 1-mile (5:14.44) and eighth in the 1,600 run (5:11.00).

Moniteau junior Ashton Grossman was third in the pole vault with a mark of 13 feet, 8 inches. That’s good enough for top 25 in the state.

Union/A-C Valley’s Hannah Ithen, who last week recorded the best long jump distance at 18-10½ in Butler County and District 9 girls history, struggled in that event, but more than made up for it with a sixth-place finish in the triple jump with a personal-best leap to 35-1.

Coudersport’s Kevin Sherry was fourth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:20.53.

Drew Griffith of Butler shattered the meet and facility record, finishing in 3:59.81 — the best time in the nation.

Brett Dean of Punxsutawney was fourth in the 200-meter dash with a career-best 22.58.

Karns City senior Luke Cramer was eighth in the javelin with a throw of 148-10.

Dawson Camper of Union/A-C Valley also placed in the shot put.