Chappell soars to new level |

Chappell soars to new level

Chuck Smock

Douglas High School pole vaulter Chris Chappell spent nearly five hours working on his tan Saturday in Fallon, watching patiently as the field of competitors slowly raised the bar high enough to challenge the defending state champion.

Then, barely 15 minutes after he easily cleared his opening height of 14 feet, the Tiger senior thrilled the crowd at the Elks Invitational by winning the event with one of the highest vaults in Nevada prep history.

The winning vault of 16-0 was a personal best for Chappell, who claimed the state title last year with an effort of 15-3. The 16-0 was also 2 feet better than the second highest vault of the day.

Reed’s Ray Serrano and Douglas senior Jason Jarrett each cleared 13-6, but went out at 14-0.

Chappell was understandably elated after surpassing 16 feet. He practically floated out of the pit.

“It feels great,” he said shortly after landing. “It’s just incredible.

“That’s a mark I’ve been trying for all year,” added Chappell, who kept sneaking peeks at the bar as his teammates and athletes from other schools congratulated him. “That’s crazy. I can’t believe I made that.”

He took three attempts at 16-3, but barely missed establishing an all-time Nevada state best. Probably.

NIAA Sports Information Director Donnie Nelson said his organization has asked the athletics directors from all Nevada high schools to compile their school track and field records and send them to the NIAA. The response hasn’t been great.

Until he’s able to compare all of the school records, Nelson said he won’t know for sure who owns the current Nevada state pole vault record.

Ray Crook, who graduated from Wooster High in 1977, vaulted 16-2 in high school competition at a track meet at the University of Nevada, Reno, during his senior year. He cleared 16-0 at the Washoe Relays at Wooster in a high school sanctioned meet earlier that season.

At the state meet in 1977, Crook won the pole vault title, but had his best effort -15-7 – disallowed because his pole broke the plane of the standards. On Monday, Crook, who is the project manager for the roofing program for the State Public Works Board in Carson City, said he was told in 1978 that the NIAA had reviewed the circumstances surrounding the ruling and had decided to reinstate his state-meet record of 15-7.

Crook added, however, that he hasn’t seen a correction in an official state meet program.

Reed High’s Marty McClellan set what is generally considered to be the Nevada state-meet record of 15-7 in 1979.

Ray Crook’s father, Rusty Crook, coached track and field for 17 years at Reed High and for two years at Wooster. According to Rusty Crook, four Nevada high school vaulters, including his son, had cleared 16-0 before Chappell accomplished the feat Saturday.

Shortly after graduating from Reed, McClellan made 16 feet at a meet in Oregon. Tom Haywood, who set the Northern Zone record of 15-9, vaulted 16-0 at an Olympic Development camp in Sacramento in 1982 after graduating from Reed. Manogue’s Joey Sambrano went 16-0 at an all-comers meet at UNR in the early 1980s, also after he graduated.

If Chappell is able to surpass the 16-2 mark set by Ray Crook 23 years ago, he’ll break a record that his maternal grandfather, George Moore, helped make possible. Moore worked for pole manufacturer AMF Pacer at the time. Chris Chappell’s father, Steve Chappell, is the general manger pole manufacturer U.C.S. Spirit in Carson City. Steve Chappell married George Moore’s daughter, Debbie, in 1975. George Moore passed away in 1982, six months after Chris was born.

And Ray Crook is among the many people who wouldn’t mind seeing Chris Chappell establish a new state record.

“George Moore helped me out tremendously,” Crook said. “He was always there for me, putting me in touch with colleges and helping me with poles. I was always very appreciative of the things he did for me.

“I couldn’t think of a better grandson to break the record that Chris. That’ll be neat.”