LEXINGTON — Bardstown produced five consecutive boys’ state pole vault champions from 2006 to 2010, establishing the school as a power in the event thanks to Michael Seaman, Matt Case and J.P. Willett.
The Tigers have picked up several medals in the event since then, but no new champions emerged until Friday, when senior Lucas Downs joined the ranks of Bardstown greats by clearing 14-06 to finish his career with a Class 2A state title at the University of Kentucky’s track complex.
“It’s really neat” to be a part of that legacy, he said.
Downs, a back-to-back region champion and a fourth-place finisher at state in 2016, just missed out on breaking the Class 2A state record of 15-02, missing on three tries at 15-03. His second attempt was the best one, as Downs just barely grazed the bar.
“That’d been really cool” to set a state record, he said.
Following his win, Downs shared tears of joy with his parents, friends and family.
“I’ve worked for three years — I set that as my goal,” he said. “I started picking it up, and (I said) ‘I’m going to be a state champion someday.’ I missed out just barely last year, and I got it pretty easy this year.”
Downs, who hopes to join the Clemson University track squad next year, said he got some new poles recently, and that helped him to be able to peak at just the right time.
“I was working every day in practice on them, to make sure I had my steps down, my hand grip down, everything down,” he said. “It was just like cake when I got here.”
Overall, the Bardstown boys finished in a tie for eighth in the team competition, matching Johnson Central’s 23 points. Mercer County was the overall boys’ winner, easily outdistancing runner-up Paducah Tilghman, 113-62. Nelson County placed 33rd with five points thanks to senior Austin Mattingly’s fourth-place result in the 800-meter run. Thomas Nelson failed to score.
In the girls’ competition, Nelson County placed 16th with 13 points, while Bardstown was tied for 21st with Johnson Central with nine points. Thomas Nelson failed to score. Boyle County was the overall girls’ champion, topping John Hardin 87-60 .
Senior Kel Livers was a big scorer for Bardstown, accounting for six points thanks to sixth-place results in the triple jump and high jump. Teammate Deontea Reynolds was seventh in the high jump. Senior Santrel Farmer produced five points for the Tigers as a result of his fourth-place finish in the long jump.