For the Wilshusen's of Paso Robles High, pole vaulting is a family affair
There’s a small pole vaulting dynasty forming at Paso Robles High School — it goes by the name House Wilshusen.
The most recent ruler is Codie Wilshusen, a 5-foot ball of energy and muscle capable of launching herself through the California sky. By clearing 12 feet, 4 inches at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet last Friday, she set a school record, finished in sixth place and qualified for the CIF State Meet for the second year in a row. But the concise history of the Wilshusen connection to pole vaulting starts with patriarch Jim Wilshusen, a former Paso Robles High pole vaulter who now helps coach his entire family.
Most days you can find them training in the best pole vault playground around, the backyard of the Central Coast’s resident pole-vault legend, Jan Johnson. Jim Wilshusen was one of the first pole vaulters to train there in the 1990s.
“It’s just a family type thing,” Codie Wilshusen said. “We come to Jan’s every afternoon and just have fun.”
Joining Codie Wilshusen on the Paso Robles team this year was younger brother, Clay Wilshusen. The freshman made a name for himself, steadily improving his personal best throughout the spring. He placed first in the freshman-sophomore finals at the SLO County Meet. And in his final effort of the season, he cleared 13 feet at the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 Prelims to set a new personal record.
“I try to give (Clay) some pointers; sometimes he listens, sometimes doesn’t. But he did really good this year for a freshman,” Codie Wilshusen said.
But the dynasty likely won’t stop with Clay Wilshusen. While his older sister went through her final preparations for the state meet on a recent afternoon, her 9-year-old brother, Justin, toyed around on a tiny pole when he wasn’t chasing bull frogs.
“Hopefully, in a couple years, he will be out here jumping as well,” Jim Wilshusen said. “It is fun to keep it in the family and keep it alive.”
After considering pole vaulting at San Diego State, Codie Wilshusen decided she is happiest when she is close to her family and friends and will instead join the Cal Poly track and field team this fall. She plans to sign her letter of intent soon.
Paso Robles High will lead the SLO County charge at the State Meet, which begins Friday at Buchanan High School in Clovis, as Wilshusen will be joined by teammates Trad Berti and Annie Meeder.
Meeder, a fellow Cal Poly commit, shattered her own school record at the Masters Meet by 15 seconds (10:29.03) in the 3,200-meter event. Her seventh-place finish earned her a No. 10 seed for the race Saturday. Berti finished third at the Masters Meet (4:12.74) and will be seeded fourth in the 1,600. Both Berti and Wilshusen will compete in prelim events Friday.
SLO High sends a new talent, top runner to State
In mid-April, SLO High coach Dave Gomes approached sophomore Anneke Moersdorf and asked her to compete in the triple jump, an awkward event she had never tried. Her progression since then has been nothing short of remarkable.
“She was just a natural,” Gomes said. “Having the gymnastics background and the height, it was just a perfect fit for her. But to do what she has done in the six weeks she’s been doing it is unheard of.”
For the last four weeks, the 6-foot Moersdorf — who also placed second in the high jump and long jump events at the CIF-SS Division 3 Finals two weeks ago — has set a new personal record in the triple jump by a foot and a half every week for the last four weeks. At the CIF Masters Meet, Moersdorf broke the triple jump school record by eight inches with a mark of 40 feet 2.25 inches and qualified for the State Meet for the first time. She will be the fourth seed heading into prelims Friday.
“It’s more of a muscle memory thing because I don’t really know what I am doing,” Moersdorf said with a sheepish smile.
Moersdorf will be joined in Clovis by Callum Bolger, a distance runner who is no stranger to the SLO High record books. The Stanford commit’s remarkable senior year continued with a win in the 3,200 at the Masters Meet in a time of 9:03.24.
“(Callum) has been working on things that he wasn’t confident in,” SLO High coach Steve Boaz said. “This year, he was just qualifying. He really looked like he was jogging. But the last 200 (meters), he was flying. And that’s a good sign that the speed is there at the end.”
Bolger will face a familiar foe Saturday in St. Joseph Notre Dame senior Cooper Teare. The soon-to-be Oregon Duck beat Bolger in the same event last year in a dramatic final lap and has been on another level all season.
“In last year’s race, Callum made a move, but he couldn’t sustain it. He locked up at the end,” Boaz said. “Lately, he has shown that he can make those moves, and I think he is more confident.”
Boaz said that there’s a chance Teare will try to beat the national record of 8:34.23, which was set by Riverbank’s German Fernandez in 2008. Because of that, and the expected mid-80s temperatures, Bolger said he has a number of game plans heading into the race.
“I am going to have to work off of him in some sort of context,” Bolger said of Teare. “I have no idea what he might be capable of doing. When it comes down to it, if he does something that I am not capable of doing, I have to do my own thing and make sure that I can run the best race I can.”
Rat Tail Taylor takes advantage
When Bolger decided not to race in the 1,600 at the Masters Meet last week to focus on the 3,200, it opened the door for Ban Taylor — and he made the most of it.
The Arroyo Grande High senior broke his old personal record by four seconds to finish in 4:14.40 and qualify for the State Meet.
“On the third lap, I thought if I can push this lap and hold on to what I am doing, I could be moving on,” Taylor said.
He credited Berti and Bolger, who he finished behind in the SLO County and PAC 8 Meets this season, for helping him become a stronger runner.
“I can gauge myself knowing I can compete with top-level guys,” Taylor said.
Outside of being one of the top distance runners in SLO County, Taylor is also know for his trademark hairstyle, which consist of a curly swath on top, shaved sides and a long braid in the back.
“I have had it since I was about 3 or 4. It is partially inspired off of Star Wars, like a Jedi’s braid or a rat tail,” said Taylor, who will sign his National Letter of Intent with Southern Utah on Monday. “It’s kind of a me thing, something that has helped me stand out.”
Like he does every race day, Taylor will unbraid is long lock and let the Clovis breeze flow through it for the last time when he takes his mark in the prelims Friday. He plans to cut it off before he heads to college.
Morro Bay ‘keeper keeps flying
Morro Bay High sophomore Jacob Furbee — inspired by his father — decided three months ago he wanted to get involved in track and field. But he didn’t know in which event.
“Then I looked at high jump, and I was like, ‘I think I have been training for that for my whole life. Why not come out here and give it a go?’ ” Furbee said.
Seven events later, it looks like the 6-foot-4 sophomore soccer goalie made the right choice. After barely qualifying for the Masters Meet, Furbee cleared 6 feet 5 inches Friday to break the school record and qualify for the State Meet.
“I was freaking out a little bit about (going for the school record), but I cleared it on my first attempt, and it felt really good,” Furbee said. “Probably one of the best jumps of my life.”
Furbee said this week the goal is to try to get over 6-7 and make it to finals.
“Who knows what will happen after that,” Furbee said.
CIF State Meet Info
Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Buchanan High School, Clovis
When: Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3
Key Events: Boys 1600m prelims on Friday start at 5:45 p.m.; Boys high jump prelims on Friday start at 3 p.m.; Girls triple jump prelims on Friday at 6 p.m.; Girls pole vault prelims on Friday at 6 p.m.; Girls 3200m on Saturday at 9:10 p.m.; Boys 3200m on Saturday at 9:25 p.m.