PHILADELPHIA >> Shortly after dazzling the crowd by clearing 15 feet, 9 inches to win the High School Boys Pole Vault Championship, Hatboro-Horsham’s Nicholas Marino was officially introduced to the Franklin Field faithful.
“It was pretty awesome,” the Hatboro-Horsham senior said of taking the medal stand. “You’re like in the middle of the field with thousands of people around you, and it’s like, ‘Hi.’”
Marino waved to the crowd of 47,420, received his gold watch, and embraced his new role as a Penn Relays Champion.
“It feels awesome,” he said, “to come here and actually win.”
Marino’s performance highlighted an impressive showing by locals, as the 123rd Running of the Penn Relays capped things off with a sunny finale on Saturday.
“Super, super nice,” Marino said. “It was a little bit hotter than I expected it to be. I wasn’t ready for this (laugh). Usually it’s rainy, cloudy, super windy, cold.”
Roughly two hours into the competition, the top pole vaulter in the state was on the verge of victory.
“I knew I was the last person left and if I got over it, I would win,” Marino said of when the bar was raised to 15-9. “Finally I got over it, and was like ‘oh thank God.’”
— Kev Hunter (@khunter10) April 29, 2017
Marino bested a class that drew in competition from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and his home state of PA.
Said Marino: “It was pretty fun. I’m friends with all the guys that are competing so we were all having fun.”
Marino was the only one to clear 15-9 and even took a stab at 16-6, which would have been a Penn Relays record. Closest to Marino on Saturday was Payton Morris of East Pennsboro and Johannes Stromhaug of Vestal High (N.Y.). “It was definitely a goal to come here and win,” the Hatter said.
It was the second year in a row Marino competed at the Penn Relays. Last year he finished sixth, getting over 13 feet, 11 and a quarter inches.
Asked what helped him make the big push this year, the senior said: “Lots of confidence. I knew I could win. I just had to relax and do what I needed to do.”
And there’s still more to come.
“Being right around the mid 15’s, low 16’s, it definitely keeps me on track to keep pushing my P.R.,” he said.