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McLean soars in Seattle

The Clackamas 17-year-old is a JO regional champion in the decathlon and pole vault


by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Connor McLean set a new Clackamas High School school record at the recent USATF Junior Olympics Regional Championship Meet, clearing 15-5 to win the pole vault in the 17- and 18-year-old division.Clackamas High senior-to-be Connor McLean continues to make a name for himself in track and field this summer.

Competing at the USATF Pacific Northwest Junior Olympic Regional Championships July 4-7 in Seattle, McLean, 17, won first place in both the decathlon and in the pole vault for the 17- to 18-year-old age division.

He cleared 15-5 for first place in the pole vault, bettering his own school record by four inches with the effort.

“And [the pole vault] was the day after he did the decathlon,” observed Willamette Striders Pole Vault Club coach Rick Baggett, who works with McLean in the pole vault two days a week. “He’s a really tough kid. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Speaking to McLean’s potential in the pole vault, Baggett said, “It’s hard to say. He could run right up there with the best in the nation next year, if things go well.”

“I was pretty tired [when I did the pole vault, after two days of decathlon events],” McLean admitted. “But I think it helped. I was relaxed. When I’m relaxed and just go out to have fun, I usually do well; and it ended up working out for me.”

McLean, who has gone 16-0 in practice, said he cleared every height on his first attempt at the Junior Olympics regional meet, until they raised the bar to 15-11.

McLean scored 5,983 points to win the decathlon by 131 points over McNary High School senior-to-be Daniel Brattain, who is a year older than McLean.

McLean’s marks for the decathlon were: 14-4-3/4 in the pole vault, 107-1 in the discus, 15.79 in the 110-meter high hurdles, 19-3-1/2 in the long jump, 148-2 in the javelin, 12.14 in the 100, 5-10 in the high jump, 55.09 in the 400, 5:02.14 in the 1,500 and 35-1-3/4 in the shot put.

He had the best marks of the decathlon in both the pole vault and discus, and the second-best mark — to Brattain (15.36) — in the high hurdles. His only new personal record in the decathlon event was in the high jump.

“I did really well in the decathlon at the state [Junior Olympic] meet,” McLean observed. “That’s where I set most of my PR’s. I scored 6,298, and that qualified me for next year’s Junior Nationals.”

Qualifying for Junior Nationals is no small feat. The competition features the top 18- and 19-year-olds in the nation and they must have met qualifying standards at a sanctioned meet in order to participate.

McLean’s success in Junior Olympic track and field comes on the heels of a successful high school season in which McLean scored 23 points at the state meet, winning the pole vault (15-0), placing third in the intermediate hurdles (38.73), fifth in the high hurdles (15.37) and sixth in the long jump (21-7).

“He’s the best track and field athlete in the state coming back next year,” Clackamas coach Jeff Kelleher said of McLean. “We have high goals for him next season — 38-flat and a school record in the intermediate hurdles, a repeat of his state championship in the pole vault, over 22 feet in the long jump, and high-point athlete at the state meet. He was second high-point this year.”

“My ultimate goal [next high school season] is to win state in all four events....,” said McLean. “The biggest challenge will probably be the long jump. There’s a kid from Grant who has gone 23 feet.”

With his top finishes in the pole vault and decathlon at the Junior Olympic Regionals, McLean has qualified for and plans to compete at the 2013 USATF Junior Olympic National Championships, scheduled for Greensboro, NC, July 22-28.

“My goals [at this year’s JO nationals] are to win the decathlon and to clear five meters [in the pole vault] — That’s 16-4,” McLean said. “Anything over 6,500 [in the decathlon] would put me in shape for top three.”

A 3.9 student at Clackamas High School, McLean is being recruited by a number of colleges. He says his top three are Air Force Academy, Nebraska and the University of Pennsylvania.

He plans a major in mechanical engineering.



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