SAN CLEMENTE – Personal records are set nearly every time a track and field competition is held. Orange County records? Not so much, but two fell at the Triton Invitational on Saturday at San Clemente High.
Canyon’s Rachel Baxter defeated Santa Margarita’s Kaitlyn Merritt (now at Stanford) in the the girls pole vault for the first time at last year's Orange County Championships. On Saturday, she eclipsed Merritt for good.
Baxter jumped 13 feet, 10 inches, surpassing Merritt’s county record of 13-9. Baxter also set a national age-group record for 16-year-olds.
“It’s unbelievable,” Baxter said. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet because it felt like such an easy bar. It just doesn’t seem true.”
Esperanza’s Bronson Osborn extended his county record for the shot put to 70 feet, 4½ inches. He first broke the county mark, which had been held for 31 years by Capistrano Valley’s Brian Blutreich (69-6½), with a 70-foot heave in the Corona Relays on Feb. 27.
Baxter and Osborn both lead the nation in their events.
Osborn said breaking the O.C. record the first time was more of a shock for him.
“When I did that, it was like breaking a mental barrier,” Osborn said of breaking 70 feet. “It was a good feeling when I first did that. Now, it’s just the same feeling as getting a (personal record).”
After clearing 13-10, Baxter took aim at the state record. She made three attempts at 14-2, which would have bested the state record of 14-1, set by Tori Anthony (Castilleja of Palo Alto) in 2007.
Baxter nearly had the state record, but she barely grazed the bar on her second try.
“I didn’t realize how close I was until watching the video,” Baxter said of her attempt at 14-2. “It felt pretty close. Just knowing that it didn’t seem super high when I was jumping it, it does seem possible. It feels like I can do it within this year and then go for the national record.”
Osborn credited Esperanza throws coach Bill Pendleton for putting him and his teammates on a path for success.
The Aztecs have produced one of the most accomplished throws squads, with six athletes topping 150 feet in the discus. The others to reach the mark are Clint Meyer, Jordan Ammann, Steve Maciel, Patrick Campos and JP Ross-Tupper.
“Coach Pendleton is definitely the reason why we have so many good throwers,” Osborn said. “He runs a good program. It’s very disciplined, and he’s got his system down. I’ve learned from him how to be successful.”
By ANDREW TURNER