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Bernier sixth in pole vault at state meet

Aiden Bernier closed out his high school athletic career by placing sixth in the boys pole vault at the CIF state meet May 24-25 at Buchanan High School in Clovis.

The Fallbrook High School senior matched his personal record with a height of 15’6” at the May 24 preliminaries. He cleared 15’2” in the May 25 finals before being unsuccessful with the bar six inches higher.

“It’s actually pretty good,” Fallbrook head coach Marco Arias said of sixth place in the state.

“I was very, very happy with it,” Bernier said. “I was very happy taking home sixth place and representing San Diego as well as I could.”

The top three athletes in each event at the CIF San Diego Section championship meet, which took place May 18 at Mount Carmel High School, qualified for the state meet as did any athlete with an automatic qualifying mark. The qualifying mark for boys pole vault was 15’0”, and nine boys at the San Diego Section championships reached that height.

Bernier shared fourth place with a height of 15’0”. He had cleared 15’6” in the section’s Division 1 championship meet May 11 at Del Norte High School to set a personal record while placing third at that meet.

Two Fallbrook High School seniors competed at the state meet. Sammy Carmona had a high jump of 6’4” to share second at the section championship meet after his Division 1 championship meet height of 6’8” won the divisional championship and set a school record.

“They both represented Fallbrook really well,” Arias said.

During the boys high jump preliminaries the bar was initially set 6’4” above the ground. Ten of the 24 boys including Carmona did not clear that height.

“Even the top ones struggled to make that height,” Arias said. “It was just a rough day for everybody.”

A high jumper or pole vaulter is allowed three attempts to clear a height. “He was well over on his third attempt but just clipped it on the way down,” Arias said.

The state meet had 33 boys in the pole vault preliminaries. The bar was initially set at 15’0” and 26 boys, including all nine San Diego Section boys who cleared that height in the section championship meet, were initially successful at the state meet.

The top 12 heights in the preliminaries earned the vaulter participation in the final. Eleven boys including Bernier cleared 15’6” to advance to the final automatically.

“I was very excited about that,” Bernier said.

“He easily cleared both of those and did really well,” said Fallbrook pole vault coach Jim Curran.

“He came in very dialed in. I think the league finals put everything into perspective for him,” Arias said.

The Valley League championship meet was held May 3 at Valley Center High School. At the league meet, Bernier cleared 13’6” and placed second with Fallbrook senior Damien Votaw having the winning height of 14’0”.

Bernier had cleared at least 14’0” in seven previous 2024 meets, and he had won the 2022 and 2023 Valley League championships.

Bernier cleared 15’6” on his second attempt at that height in the state preliminaries. “The first attempt, I wasn’t on the correct pole. I was overpowering a bit too much,” he said.

With all vaulters who cleared at least 15’6” guaranteed a flight in the finals in the absence of injury, there was no need for attempts at 16’0”. That kept Bernier from attempting that height at the preliminaries. Since misses at lower distances are used as the tiebreaker, the runoff for 12th place and the last berth in the finals involved the eight vaulters who cleared 15’0” on their first attempt but not 15’6”.

Bernier had borrowed a larger pole from another vaulter for his 15’6” height at the preliminaries, but that athlete did not advance to the finals. “I had to find poles from somebody else,” he said.

The bar was initially set at 15’2” for the finals. Nine of the 12 vaulters cleared that initial height. Bernier was one of those.

“I was very pleased with it. It was a very difficult competition,” Bernier said.

“He’s a hard worker. That’s what got him there. He stayed focused and put his jumps together well all season,” Curran said.

The next height was 15’8”, which would have been not only a personal record for Bernier but also the new school record. “I unfortunately didn’t make it. I had a bit of a struggle with the pole,” he said. “I never really figured out where I needed everything to be.”

“His step was off on the first one,” Curran said. “He came down in front.”

Bernier reached the bar on his second and third attempts at 15’8” but knocked it down. “The other two he got his hips over the bar and didn’t quite make it,” Curran said.

“It wasn’t meant to be, but overall he finished sixth,” Arias said. “He would have had to set a personal and school record to be in the top three.”

The tiebreaker of missed attempts at lower distances gave Bernier sixth place. “I was very happy with how I placed,” Bernier said. “Overall it was a great day.”

University City junior Kai Anderson, who won the CIF San Diego Section’s Division 2 championship, won the state meet with a height of 16’8”. Torrey Pines senior Joey Weisman, who won the Division 1 championship, cleared 15’8” at the state meet and placed fourth.

“San Diego was very well represented,” Curran said of four San Diego Section vaulters placing among the top seven.

His height at the finals gave Bernier eight meets this year in which he cleared at least 15’0”. “If you’re over 15 that many times, you’re consistent,” Curran said.

Both of Bernier’s parents also attended Fallbrook High School. His mother, Jenny, ran hurdles for Fallbrook’s girls track and field team. (His father, David, was a weightlifter but did not participate in CIF sports.) “My mom’s been basically holding my pole vaulting career together,” Bernier said. “She’s been the person keeping me pushing through and giving it my all.”

Bernier will continue his pole vaulting career at California State University Fullerton.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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