Rising senior, Jacob Westerfield, could be a name to watch in the coming year. He won the 6A state title this season with his 15-7 and finished the year just outside of the top ten all-time in VA. His performance was great but his improvements are what we are really looking at.
It should be noted that fellow rising senior Kyle Mosteller (Amherst) also share the same 15-7 mark as him.
Jacob has improved a lot in the past couple years but seems to us he is only on the up swing. Picture it like a vault. His stats show us that he is barely off the ground at this stage and that he has a far ways to go until he has hit his best form.
The pole vault is a tough event. It takes a ton of strength, talent, mental fortitude, and good coaching. Jacob definitely has all of that but his real strength or upside is in how much of a novice he still is. He has only vaulted 39 times according to our database which is way less than Mosteller's 46, Alex Slinkman's 40, Will Chapman's 53, or Harrison Rice's 50 thru their respective junior seasons. That number shows us he was able to go higher, faster, than nearly anyone else.
Jacob's progression follows a very common trend amongst great male pole vaults too. The usual trend is roughly a season best of 12' (Outdoors), 13'6" (Indoors) , 14'6" (Outdoors), 15'(Indoors), 15'6" (Outdoors), and then higher. The key is trending just above that to reach some special heights.
Alex Slinkman comes to mind most with his 16' clearance as a junior last year (did so in 39 vaults). That slight above average trend put him on a strong path towards records but unfortunately injuries got in the way.
That set of progressions also highlights how you can expect two big breakthroughs once a vaulter is clearing serious heights. The same was even true for Mondo Duplantis who has seen multiple huge breakout performances.
In our opinion Jacob has only seen one of two big performance breakthroughs you could normally expect. His first one being his indoor pr of 14'9.5" to outdoor pr 15'7". That means if everything moves in the right direction we could very well see something in the area of 16'3 to 16'6" thru May next year.
Though that doesn't get him to 17' quite yet, it does put him within striking distance. Ask Gennifer Hirata about that! All it takes is one vault and one more height than you are used to and you're over 17' or 13' as was the case with Gen.
Through three years and 39 vaults it looks like Jacob Westerfield is on the right path and primed for a very strong senior season.
He may not be the center of this article but it should be noted that Kyle Mosteller of Amherst has also seen quite a lot of success and improvements thru just his junior campaign. Just like Slinkman, Rice, and Chapman... we will have at least two guys vaulting against each other to make the record hunt easier next year. We expect Mosteller to be consistently over 16' next year as well.