There’s nothing like a little motivation, and it may have helped propel Live Oak’s Clayton Simms to a third straight indoor championship in the Division I pole vault on Sunday.
“I’m pretty happy with the performance. I’m not going to lie,” Simms said Sunday evening after clearing 16 feet, 10.75 inches at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s state indoor track and field meet at LSU. “That was probably the most consistent meet in the past few weeks. I’ve been struggling with a little bit as far as being consistent … but this is the best I’ve felt in weeks, so I’m really happy, especially setting up for nationals next weekend.”
“I just look at it like I put in too much work to not go out and win,” Simms continued. “My main goal is to win. It’s never to go jump a height or anything. I think winning is the most important thing. I put in a lot of work, and I’ve gone through a lot of stuff in the past year, and I feel like I’m pretty deserving of it with all the work me and my coach have put in. We came in, we were like, ‘we’re just going to go win. We’re going to take what we worked for.’”
Getting to this point was a journey for Simms after he failed to post a height at the LSU High School Indoor Classic on Jan. 9.
“It was pretty tough on me,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily the fact that I no-heighted. It was the way in which I did it. I just didn’t know exactly what happened. It threw me off a hell of a lot more mentally than it should have, and it kind of snowballed for the next two weeks, and I wasn’t feeling as confident as I usually am. I kind of thrive off being confident and knowing what preparation I put in and my abilities to do things.”
Simms won the pole vault at the LSU High School Qualifier on Jan. 30 but said he didn’t start feeling better about things until after winning again at the LSU Last Chance Qualifier on Feb. 6.
In Sunday’s meet, Simms said he entered the competition at 15-7, something he’s been doing this season.
“No real reason to change what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I was coming in a little bit higher, but I’ve been wanting to get jumps in, get reps in, on these poles that I’m on, so we thought it was important to come in a little bit lower.”
“I’m on a lot stiffer poles than I was last year, because I’m a lot faster and a lot stronger than I was, and I’m doing a lot of technical stuff in the jump that moves the poles a lot more efficiently than I was last year,” Simms continued. “It’s just getting used to hitting poles that are 35-40 pounds over my body weight. You’ve got to have that intensity to do that. When I’m confident, it’s kind of a breeze. I’m feeling confident in myself, like how I’ve been today especially, and lately.”
Simms finished ahead of Hammond Beau Domingue, who had a mark of 15-11. The pair train together, and Simms said they push each other, which helps each time they compete against one another.
“I don’t ever go into a competition not expecting people to not jump as high or whatever,” Simms said. “I go into a competition expecting everyone there to be at the top of their game, especially Beau. He can pop off at any moment. He’s always been there to push me.”
Simms said while he’s happy to have won a third straight state indoor title, he’s focusing his attention on the Adidas Indoor Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., next weekend.
“That’s been my goal since sophomore year,” he said. “I didn’t get to compete in nationals this last year because it got canceled the day before. We were about to fly out to New York. I feel like it’s all kind of coming to this, kind of culminating at this national championship. I’m seeded No. 1, and I’m hoping to go win. I have no doubt in my mind that I’m going there to win.”
Simms’ effort at Sunday’s state indoor meet highlighted a number of solid performances by parish athletes with Walker’s Todd Collins finishing fourth in the pole vault (14-3.25) and Denham Springs’ Justin Perault eighth (12-1.50).
In the Division I boys high jump, Denham Springs’ Troy Golmond was third (6-2.75), while DSHS teammate Montrell Morris was eighth (5-7).
Walker’s Lilly Waguespack was second in the girls Division I high jump (5-1.75), while Denham Springs’ Kallie Calvaruso was sixth (4-11.75) and DSHS’ Shelby Brocksmith was 13th (4-6.75).
Walker’s Ava Pitarro finished seventh in the Division I girls 1600 meters (5:39.39).
Denham Springs’ Jordyn Taylor finishing fourth in the Division I 60-meter dash in a school record 7.86 seconds. Taylor was also sixth in the long jump (16-5.25).
Maurepas’ Madelyn Aime was eighth in the Division II girls pole vault (9-8).
Zachary won the Division I boys title with 87 points, while Live Oak tied for 10th with 10 points, Denham Springs tied for 18th with six points and Walker tied for 22nd with four points.
St. Joseph’s won the Division I girls title with 76 points, while Walker tied for 13th with eight, and Denham Springs tied for 17th with six.