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Kansas-recruit Zachery Bradford of Bloomington High School became the third high school boy in U.S. history to top 18 feet indoors in the pole vault at New York City on Saturday.

Bradford cleared 18-0½ to win at the New Balance Nationals and move to No. 2 in U.S. prep history indoors. His previous best was 17-8.

"I didn't think I was going to do it, but I pulled it off," said Bradford in a telephone interview. "As I landed, I heard the crowd start celebrating." 

Bradford entered the 28-entrant competition at 16-5¼. He cleared that and 16-9¼ on his first attempt before needing two tries to get over 17-1.

Bradford followed with first-attempt clearances at 17-5 and 17-9 before needing three attempts at 18-0½.

"I moved my grip up, got my step on, stayed tight to the pole and that's what helped (on the third attempt)," said Bradford, who went out at 18-2.

"My last two attempts (at 18-2) were actually really good. I was over it. I just came down on it. I didn't have the right hip height so it's there.

"I was on the biggest pole that I brought so I didn't have much left. My cross country stamina stepped in ... but by the end I was exhausted."

Only seven boys in U.S. high school history have gone higher indoors or out and no one from Illinois has gone higher than Bradford. Saturday's runner-up was K.C. Lightfoot of Lee's Summit, Mo., at 17-9.

This year's national indoor leader is Mondo Duplantis of Lafayette, La., at 19-3½. Last year, he set the national outdoor record of 19-4¼.

Prairie Central boys win: The Prairie Central boys track team, led by Chandlar Ifft's school record pole vault clearance of 15-0, won the Reed-Custer Invitational at Braidwood.

Joining Ifft as a winner for the Hawks were Zach Matson in the shot put (51-3) and Aidan Krieger in the 60 hurdles (8.76). Prairie Central also won the 800 relay thanks to Connor Haab, Lee Zimmerman, Wyatt Steidinger and Wes Semmerling.

Pontiac boys 5th: Led by double winner Cameron Dawson, Pontiac scored 49 points to place fifth in the 14-team Rantoul Invitational at Champaign. McHenry won with 90. Dawson high jumped 6-6 and triple jumped 42-9½.


Sports Writer

Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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