Austin Laut was a champion, the setting sun reflecting off of his gold medal and his broad grin, yet there he was hauling all of his pole vault gear off the infield, nearly to the parking lot.
And he was glad to play the role of pack mule.
The Oak Ridge High School senior capped his unbeaten season in style, winning the CIF State championship pole vault title at 15 feet, 9 inches in front of a sellout crowd of 10,000-plus Saturday at Veteran’s Stadium.
“So excited, so proud,” Laut said. “I dreamed of this.”
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He dreamed of winning – despite having to shake his father, William Laut, from his case of the snores a time or two Friday night in a nearby hotel. And young Laut dreamed of a better start than his stress-filled preliminary round here Friday afternoon where he missed on his first two attempts, nearly derailing his title hopes before they got off the ground.
Laut missed matching his lifetime best of 16-3, but he wasn’t too upset.
“I was hoping for 16-3, but 15-9 did the trick,” Laut said.
Headed to Yale to study economics, Laut recalled clearing 10 feet without a bend in his pole as a freshman, and he nodded in remembering his failure to record a height last year in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet.
“Pole vaulting has given me so much,” Laut said. “It gave me confidence. It gave me great teammates, gave me patience and the ability to jump under pressure.”
And it’s given him memories to last a lifetime.
Travis Kartz of Granite Bay was fourth at 15-3 and Robert Holloway of Ponderosa ninth at 14-9.
* For more CIF State track meet results and insight, check later on www.sacbee.com