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Ethan Welch Wins Sectional Pole Vault Championship

Ethan Welch


Ethan Welch had never tried the pole vault before joining Marion Central School’s outdoor track team last April. Ten months later he is a Section V champion in the event.

Welch cleared 10-feet, 9-inches to win the Class A3 Indoor Track and Field championship on Feb. 20 at Houghton College. The sophomore defeated his nearest challenger by 18 inches after topping out at 9-feet in sectionals last spring.

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“I came back this season at the first meet and did 10-feet, so I went up a whole foot,” Welch said. “I just got bigger and stronger.”

He also put in the work.

Welch practiced on the gymnastics rings each day throughout the season to simulate being in the air and showed consistent progress.

Welch said he enjoys the unique challenges that pole vaulting presents.

“It’s way different than everything else everyone is doing,” Welch said. “You’ve got to do running, lean back and then turn to get over the bar. I just do it.”

Welch admits that he performs better when he doesn’t think too much.

“You have to be kind of a daredevil,” Marion coach Paul Pfeiffer said. “You have to trust the pole and you have to be willing to take that risk.”

Welch has the speed and strength required to succeed in pole vaulting. Repetition has also been key.

“He’s consistent,” Pfeiffer said. “His approach is really consistent and he is a fast kid who always hits his mark on the runway.”

Welch finished second at the Wayne-Finger Lakes championships and 10th in all of Section V at the state qualifier. He said his twin brother Oren, who is also a pole vaulter, pushes him in practice each day.

With an individual sectional title already under his belt, Welch has had to set new goals for himself.

“I want to go to states by my senior year and I want to break the school records in both indoor and outdoor,” Welch said. “It’s inspiring to do so well at such a young age.”

Welch also placed fifth in the high jump at sectionals as Marion finished 12th. The girls team also finished 12th as Leah Boerman placed fourth in the pole vault and Hannah Roegiers took fifth in the 300-meter run.