To the Grand Forks Red River High School boys track coaches and athletes, it is known as the Compton Curse.
Mike Compton holds the program’s oldest school record, a 14-foot-2 height in the pole vault he set in 1974. Many have challenged the mark; none have reached it.
“There have been numerous kids through the years who, as sophomores and juniors, got close to Mike’s record,’’ Red River coach Jeff Bakke said. “It looked like they’d break that record their senior year. But, for whatever reason, it’s never happened.
“We thought Kaden (Rohloff) could be the guy to get the record this year.’’
This spring had the makings of strong intracity competition in the vault between Rohloff and Grand Forks Central’s Jak Urlacher. Both looked like state title contenders as well as threats to break school records.
But neither got in a vault. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted first in the suspension, and ultimately the cancelation, of the spring sports season.
“To not be able to do something I’ve loved since I was in sixth grade, it really hit me hard,’’ Rohloff said.
Rohloff, a senior, had a personal-record height of a 14-foot vault last season. He finished third at the Class A state meet with a 13-6 vault.
Urlacher, a junior, was runner-up at state last season when he vaulted 13-9, beating his previous PR by nine inches. Central’s school record is 14-6, held by Keith Bennett (2008) and Alex Torrey (2012).
“Jak really looked good in practices,’’ Central coach Sean Allan said. “He’s stronger than last year. And you could see he was growing in his skill level and confidence. He was definitely in the ballpark as far as beating the school record and battling for a state title.’’
Bakke saw the same potential in Rohloff. “I definitely thought topping 14-2 was a legitimate goal for Kaden,’’ Bakke said. “He possibly could have gone 14-6 to 15 feet. He’s stronger this year. He really looked ready.’’
One advantage for the two vaulters is that they practiced with each other daily. They were to compete in the same meets.
“We have friendly competition,’’ Urlacher said. “Our skill level is about the same. We’re friends, but we definitely compete. I’d see Kaden getting better and I’d want to stay with him. It pushes you to get better.’’
Said Rohloff: “If Jak had beaten me, I’d have been happy for him. We’re more friends than rivals.’’
The vaulters weren’t the only Grand Forks boys track athletes within striking distance of breaking school records.
Central’s Ben Hoverson had triple jumped 44-9.5 last season, less than a foot shy of the 45-4.5 school record set by Drew Hysjulien in 2003. “Ben was a lot stronger this year,’’ Allan said. “I know the school record was something he had in his mind.’’
Red River’s Bryce Enerson ran a PR of 14.76 in the 110 hurdles last season, within striking distance of Ryan Todhunter’s 14.10 school record. “We were looking for Bryce to go faster,’’ Bakke said. “He looked faster, more explosive, in basketball and football. I wouldn’t have put (the record) past him.’’
Enerson and Hoverson, like Rohloff, are seniors. Their school-record bids are over.
“You feel bad for everyone,’’ Bakke said. “You definitely feel for the seniors. It’s such an unfortunate way to end a high school career.’’