Track & Field: Riverhead’s Villa wins pole vault title

Riverhead sophomore Zikel Riddick jumped 20-11 1/4 in the long jump Friday at the Division II Championship. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)
Riverhead sophomore Zikel Riddick jumped 20-11 1/4 in the long jump Friday at the Division II Championship. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)


Charles Villa doesn’t measure his success by the heights he clears in the pole vault. Rather, the Riverhead senior judges himself by the pole he uses to vault.

“I set goals in poles,” he said. “Because I know the height will come. It’s there. I just got to get on the right pole with the right steps.” 

Two weeks ago Villa cleared 15 feet 1 inch in the pole vault, setting the school outdoor record, and he narrowly missed out on 15-6, a monstrous height in high school. Coming into Friday’s Division II Championship at Longwood High School, Villa had his sights set on another record vault.

For the first time ever in competition, Villa switched from a six-step run to a seven step. The number of steps account for each left foot in the run through. The final step in the vault is always off the left foot.

The idea, Villa explained, is that the seven-step run will allow him to get on a bigger pole, which ultimately would lead to higher heights. In his first real run-through Friday, the results weren’t exactly what he hoped.

He still finished first, clearing a respectable height of 13-6, but Villa said there’s still work to be done for it to all come together.

“In pole vaulting, everything’s timing,” he said. “That’s what makes it so crazy and hard. But that’s also a reason why I like it so much because it’s such a hard sport.”

Charles Villa soars over the bar in the pole vault Friday. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)
Charles Villa soars over the bar in the pole vault Friday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Villa had three attempts at 14-0 and missed them all. He needed his third attempt to get over 13-6.

What may seem like a minuscule detail, running seven steps instead of six, makes a huge difference, Villa said.

“It’s like a different animal,” he said.

Villa is constantly in analysis mode, critiquing to himself every last detail of his vault. The challenge now is to gain the speed he needs in the seven-step run, he said. And as Friday’s meet went on, and he missed a few early vaults as a light rain began to fall, his confidence wavered.

“After realizing my jumps weren’t very good today, I was losing confidence in myself,” he said.

Villa will have a week to prepare for the Section XI State Qualifier.

“My game plan for today was just get to a seven, jump and have fun with it,” he said. “I’ll get ’em the next time.”

On the track, The Blue Waves got a third-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles from Daren Jefferson, who ran a 15.39. Teammate Andrew Smith ran 16.14 for sixth place.

Jefferson has emerged the last three weeks as a standout in the hurdles.

“It clicked for him,” said Riverhead coach Steve Gevinski. “He was running 16.1, 16.2, then all of a sudden it was like bam. He’s been outstanding.”

Early in the season it was Smith who was the Blue Waves’ top hurdler. But Jefferson, who didn’t run in the winter season after playing football in the fall, just rounded into form.

“Daren had some problems with his knees last year and then all of a sudden it just all came around,” Gevinski said.

Riverhead finished fifth in the team standings for Division II with 51 1/2 points. Junior Ethan Greenidge placed second in the shot put by throwing 48-5 1/2.

In the long jump, sophomore Zikel Riddick jumped 20 feet 11 1/4 inches to take fourth place. Sophomore Ryan DiResta took fourth in the pentathlon with 2,585 points. His highest point total came in the 1,500, which he ran in 4:43.45 for 659 points.

In the 200-dash, senior Jacob Robinson placed sixth in 23.20, which was up from his preliminary run Tuesday of 22.87. Senior Davion Porter was fifth in the high jump, clearing 5-10.

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