Ryan Merlino moved into the No. 1 spot among New Jersey sophomore pole vaulters Friday with a huge breakthrough performance at the Atlantic County Championships.
Merlino, a sophomore at Oakcrest, cleared 13-6 at Buena, which at least according to his MileSplit bio page is a two-foot PR.
Merlino is listed with an 11-6 clearance at a SJTCA indoor meet at the Bubble in February and an outdoor PR of 11-0 before Friday from the Jim Camburn Relays, also at Buena. He appears to be a first-year varsity track competitor.
A two-foot PR in the pole vault, where PRs are often measured in fractions of an inch, is virtually unheard of.
But Merlino vaulted into the No. 11 spot in the state this year and No. 3 in South Jersey, behind Cherry Hill East senior Noah Kressman, who hit 14-6 at the Woodbury Relays, and Deptford senior Gursharan Singh, who cleared 13-6 at the Gloucester County Championships at Deptford.
The top sophomore before Merlino cleared 13-6 was Willingboro’s Jackson Murry, who has cleared 13-0 three times this spring, most recently when he won the Burlington County Open last weekend.
Over the last 15 years, the only South Jersey sophomore to clear a higher height was Delsea’s Nico Morales, who went 14-10 at the 2018 Tri-County Championships at Delsea.
Merlino’s 13-6 is tied for No. 2 in Oakcrest history, behind only Tony Defeo, who cleared 14-6 as a senior at the state Group 3 meet at Egg Harbor. Simon Vuong also cleared 13-6 in 2011.
Merlino jumps next at the Cape Atlantic Conference Championships on Wednesday at Bridgeton.