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RAISING THE BAR: Union/A-C Valley’s Hayden Smith Clears 7-feet in High Jump to Achieve Long-Sought-After Goal

RIMERSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — When Hayden Smith’s back hit the mat and he looked up at the bar that was vibrating, but still resting at 7-feet on the uprights, he pumped his fist and rose to his feet.

So excited, he nearly knocked over his girlfriend, Bryana Corson, during his celebration.

For years, the senior at Union and member of the Union/A-C Valley boys track and field team has been gunning for that 7-foot mark. He’d been close — a clipped heel here, a brush of an elbow there, knocking the bar off its perch.

Finally, on a raw Wednesday afternoon at Union High School in a tri-meet against Clarion-Limestone and Moniteau, Smith finally cleared that barrier.

“I was amazed,” Smith said. “Amazed.”

(Pictured above, Hayden Smith lands on the mat after clearing 7-feet in the high jump during a tri-meet with Clarion-Limestone and Moniteau/Photo by Lori Blauser)

Smith entered the day intending to merely use the meet as a tuneup for the Penn Relays this weekend.

But Smith felt a little extra hop in his step after a visit to the chiropractor earlier in the day. By the time the bar was raised to the 7-foot mark, he went for it.

“I was treating it as a workday because I didn’t really have the adrenaline,” Smith said. “It was cold out, too. I don’t know. It just clicked, I guess. And (Union/A-C Valley coaches Dave Sherman and Stacey Fox) were talking, telling me I had to hurry to go run the 4×100. Right then and there I was like, ‘Alright. Alright. Let me get one more attempt. I’m gonna get it.’ I think Stacey gave me a little boost.”

The jump puts Smith second in the nation.

It was also three years to the day that he broke the school record in the event, which was 6-4; he cleared 6-5 for the first time that day.

How far he has come.

A three-time District 9 and two-time PIAA champion in the event, Smith has been flirting with 7-feet for much of the season.

He cleared 6-11 at the Butler Invitational on Friday night and barely missed at 7-1 there.

“I just felt good,” Smith said. “I took a little bit more time to warm up because it was cold out. Maybe that was it? Maybe that helped.

“It was awesome,” he added. “I was thinking if I can get this today, it would be awesome. It’s just so much to take in.”

Smith now has his sights set on first duplicating that 7-foot mark and then chasing the Pennsylvania record of 7-2½, which was set by Tyrone Smith of Plymouth Whitemarsh in 1985.

The atmosphere of the Penn Relays may be just the ticket for Smith to chase that record.

“That’s most definitely on my mind,” Smith said. “That would be so awesome to get.”


It was a big day overall for Union/A-C Valley.

Logan Skibinski, who broke the 100-meter dash record at 11 seconds two weeks ago, snapped the A-C Valley mark in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.3 seconds.

His teammate, Aidan Fox, was right behind him in second place at 22.6 as the Falcon Knights beat Clarion-Limestone, 92-41, and Moniteau, 89-60.

Barry Louise had held the previous record of 22.6 at A-C Valley for 40 years.

The Union record belongs to Bob Butler at 21.6, which has stood since 1967.

Skibinski was also part of wins in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.

Nick Ielase, Jorge Reyes and Fox were also multiple winners.