Conner McGuire and Kyle Stubler received their state pole vault medals in Wichita last weekend. Submitted photo

Conner McGuire and Kyle Stubler received their state pole vault medals in Wichita last weekend. Submitted photo

It’s been quite a season for Gardner Edgerton High School coach Thane Nonamaker and his Blazer vault crew.
Senior Conner McGuire capped a brilliant season with a first place 6A vault of 15-feet 6-inches.
McGuire made vaults at 13-feet 6-inches and 14-feet on his first attempts. It took two tries for the GEHS senior to clear 14-feet, 6-inches. It was his clearance at 15-feet in one attempt that officially gave McGuire the title, though he would continue vaulting as the only remaining competitor. He cleared 15-feet 6-inches on his second attempt, tying for the second best vault in Kansas this season.
McGuire failed to clear 16-feet in three tries. Had he cleared the bar, he would have finished as one of the top 20 vaulters in Kansas history.
No members of the lady Blazer squad captured the girls’ pole vault title. However, Karli Smith took the bronze. She breezed over the bar at 9-feet 6-inches and at 10-feet in her first attempts. She missed all three tries at 10-feet 6-inches. The performance landed her a third place finish in Wichita last weekend.
“It was a great end to a great season,” Nonamaker said. “Long hours of hard work paid off for the kids. I’m proud of the effort.”
McGuire and Kyle Stubler finished the season with the first and third best vaults in class 6A.
GEHS’ Abby Buie, who cleared a 10-feet 6-inch bar during the season, and Smith finished with the fourth and sixth best vaults in class 6A.
GEHS has a rich history in pole vault.
GEHS’ Jeff Buckingham won four league championships and three state championships in pole vault before setting several school, state and national age group records. He ended his high school career at GEHS in 1978 by setting a world record vault, 17 feet, three-quarter inches, for 17 year-olds. He was a three-time Big Eight Conference champion, an NCAA record holder and qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials four times.
GEHS’ alum George Buckingham was the state runner-up in pole vault in 1978. He was the state champion in 4A pole vault in 1970, setting the 4A class record. He won AAU national titles in 1975, 1977, and 1979, and his 16-feet 8-inch vault in 1979 was the high school vault performance in the nation. He continued his career in pole vault at the University of Kansas where he was voted most valuable track athlete in 1982.
In March of this year, former GEHS standouts Casey Bowen and Tommy Brady competed in the Big 12 indoor track and field meet. Bowen, who now vaults for University of Kansas, cleared 17-feet, three-quarter inches, placing first. Brady, who now vaults for Kansas State University, placed eighth, clearing 16-feet, 2-inches.
GEHS’ Kyle Wait won Big 12 pole vault titles at Kansas State University, and his sister, Cassie Wait, won three straight pole vault titles while in high school. She now plays volleyball for KU.