Hammonton grad Rob Gardner, a freshman at Rowan, hit a couple big PRs pole vaulting this weekend at the Oscar Moore Invitational in Glassboro.
Gardner not only cleared 14 feet to tie his PR from high school, he also cleared 14-6 for the first time. And he posted the best vault by a Rowan pole vaulter outdoors in 15 years.
Gardner won the pole vault with a 14-6 clearance on his ninth jump of the day. He didn’t make opening height of 12-6 until his third attempt and after clearing 12-11 3/4 on his first try he didn’t make it over 13-6 1/4 until his third attempt as well.
He was one of three jumper over the bar at 13-6 1/4 and since the other two – freshman teammate Eric Byrne of Randolph High and Nicolas Re of Bernards High and Stevens Institute – cleared on their first attempt, Gardner was in third place as the bar went up to 14 feet.
So he needed to match his PR to win, and he did, clearing 14-0 on his first attempt. When Byrne and Re failed to get over the bar on their three tries, Gardner had the win.
He then had the bar raised to 14-6 and cleared that on his first attempt as well.
According to the official meet results, Gardner elected to stop jumping after the 14-6 clearance, which is understandable after nine jumps.
Gardner’s previous collegiate PR was a 13-11 1/4 indoors at Ocean Breeze in February of 2020. He cleared 14-0 once at Hammonton, at the state Group 3 meet at Central Regional in Bayville in May of 2019.
Gardner had only competed in one other meet since the premature end of the 2020 indoor season, and that was a meet at Stockton last month, where he went 13-5 1/4.
That meet was won by junior Keith Holland of Stockton, a graduate of Central Regional, who went 15-3. Holland jumped 15-5 this past weekend at Stockton, the No. 9 mark in NCAA Division 3.
Gardner is now No. 2 in the NJAC behind Holland and No. 32 in NCAA Division 3 and No. 8 among freshmen.
Gardner’s 14-6 is the best clearance by a Rowan vaulter since Adam Diekewicz went 14-7 indoors at the Gotham Cup at the Armory in January of 2012. It’s the best outdoor jump since Ryan West (from Toms River North) cleared 15-9 at the 2006 NJAC Championships at Rowan.