Carl Johansson never quit the pole vault even though he had a rough first season trying to compete in the event.
The Newport Beach resident, an Orange Lutheran High junior, suffered a fractured ankle early in his freshman year. But he said he enjoyed competing in the event and didn't want to give up. His tenacity and improvement have paid off this season.
Last week he advanced to the CIF State Track and Field Championships. Johansson, as well as Newport Harbor senior thrower Marty Taylor, will compete Friday, vying to advance to Saturday's finals at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Taylor will be using his strength in the shotput and discus, while Johansson will do his best to clear the bar with the use of his pole.
"I just really enjoyed it," Johansson said of his first experience with pole vault. "I just thought it was one of the coolest events."
Johansson has felt pretty cool about his recent accomplishments. Last year, his personal best was 14 feet, 9 inches.
He cleared 15-10, breaking his own school record, last week in the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet at Cerritos College, where he finished second. That mark ranks No. 7 in the state.
"I'm really excited," Johansson said of competing in the state meet. "That was one of my main goals this year. I've been doing pretty well these past few weeks. I am excited to be going. I know I have a whole year next year so I feel like I don't have that much to lose."
Taylor will try to go out on top before he moves on to compete at UCLA. He finished second in the discus (184-8) and third in the shotput (60-2) last week and saw Temecula Great Oak's Nick Ponzio win both events, 65-1 in the shotput and 186-5 in the discus.
Taylor's personal best in the shotput is 62-5, which is No. 3 in the state.
His personal best in the discus is 190-4 1/2, which is No. 2 in the state.