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After decades of successful pole vaulting at Newcomerstown High School, junior Ryan Stevens has kept the legacy alive by becoming the latest of a long line of state champions from Newcomerstown.
Stevens who vaulted 15 feet and two inches, becomes the fourth state pole vaulting champion from Newcomerstown High and joins an elite group of vaulters which includes current Newcomerstown head coach Jamie Lewis and current Indian Valley head coach Dave Bell.
Lewis is no stranger to the OHSAA State Meet as he earned back-to-back state championships in his high school career, starting in 1994 when he vaulted a height of 15-0 and followed up with a 16-1 in 1995 to claim his second consecutive state title.
Bell, another Trojan who is a pole vaulting legend, emerged as a state champion in 1984 and went on to Muskingum University where he became a NCAA All-American in 1986 and 1987.
Joining Stevens at this year's OHSAA State Championships was teammate Dylan Garretson, who jumped 14-2 which was good enough for a seventh place finish and All-Ohio honors.
"Both of these guys have had great seasons," offered Lewis. "They really came on here towards the end and I know they are capable of higher heights to come."
Lewis is pleased with the success of Stevens and Garretson success and the time they have put into the event.
"Ryan has done such a great job," offered Lewis of the junior standout. "He has definitely put the effort in by working on different poles and different techniques. He is one of many athletes who works on a vault in the winter and has put in a lot of time.
"Dylan is another athlete who has done very well," added Lewis. "He always wants to do better and has put in a lot of time over the course of the season and during the winter. Dylan and Ryan make each other want to do better and have a lot of friendly competitions."
Leading up to the State Meet, Stevens added another piece to his impressive resume and that was setting the new Inter-Valley Conference pole vault record.
Stevens recorded a 15-1 height at the IVC Meet breaking the previous record of 15-0 held by Coach Lewis.
Lewis currently holds the school's all time record of 16-4, which he accomplished in his senior year in 1995 at the All-County Meet in New Philadelphia.
Both Stevens and Garretson punched their ticket for the D-III Regional by finishing first and second at the Division III District Meet at Newcomerstown.
Stevens took the first place honors by recording a 14-10 at the district while Garretson finished a close second by posting a 14-6 then at the regional, Stevens claimed first place by jumping 14-0 followed by Garretson who finished fourth with a height of 13-4.
Stevens and Garretson have both been mentored by Tom Addy, who has been a coaching for the Newcomerstown track and field team for approximately 16 years and has been handling the pole vaulters since the early 1980s.
"I think it starts with the great athletes we have had," said Coach Addy of the decades of pole vaulting success at Newcomerstown. "We have had a combination of great pole vaulters and coaches who have been willing to help to make the kids better. More than anything, it is the constant hard work the kids put in.
"We had a strong track program back when I was in high school," Addy continued. "Jamie has done a great job of building it up again."
Addy graduated in 1971 and was a runner up at the OHSAA State Meet his senior year.
It does not look like the Newcomerstown track program will be slowing down anytime soon, as Stevens has one more year of remaining while Garretson will only be a junior with two more years yet to come.