Track and field has been busy during season two. Although the programs are not keeping official scores or stats for the season, two school records could not be overlooked. Recently, a pair of Oakdale High School track and field athletes carved their names in the school history. Pole vault specialist Dean Dodge and runner Caleb Cavanaugh each set records in late April.
Dodge used the pandemic as a motivational tool in preparation for his senior year.
“I did not know, nobody knew for that matter, if we would even have a season. This is my senior year so I wanted to be ready just in case. It was my goal to break the record this year,” Dodge explained. “The fact that I accomplished that goal already, honestly has left me wanting to break my own record by the end of the year.”
When he got the news that the season was on, Dodge was ready and excited to return to the classroom as well.
“I was stoked to hear that not only would I have a chance at pole vault, but that I also get to experience actual school again. I get to return to the classrooms and see my favorite teacher Mr. (Pete) Simoncini.”
Dodge’s historic leap came when he cleared 14 feet-6.25 inches. The previous record was held by Rigo Vargas at 14 feet, six inches.
“When I broke the record, I felt a sense of accomplishment. It was surreal but like I said, I want to do more before my time is up.”
Dodge picked up pole vault his freshman year. He used to cliff jump and trampoline before that. It was his sophomore year where he began to set goals and expectations. That year he went to Masters and saw the competition up close and wanted to be a part of it.
His big moment came in a home meet where he achieved the record-setting vault.
“I had no anxiety, I did not feel nervous. I remember looking over at my family before I jumped. Everything just seemed normal. I put the chalk on my hands and I was ready,” recalled Dodge. “When I felt the pole bend, it felt natural and flawless. When I landed I could hear the cheers from my family and supporters and it will be a moment I cherish for the rest of my life.”
This fall Dodge will be attending University of Redlands.
“I was looking for a school that would accommodate my goals and aspirations. After months of exploring all of my options I choose Redlands. The coaching staff is amazing and I cannot wait.”
Dodge will be majoring in economics.
Sophomore Cavanaugh has already put himself on the map. In season one of the school year, he competed in cross country and was highly successful. Now in season two he competes in various races in track. The young runner broke the 3200-meter race record in front of his family and friends. He blitzed through the race and when he crossed the finish line the stop watch read 9:37.94. This remarkable time surpassed Ray Main’s 1972 record of 9:46.1.
“I don’t know what to say. I really never run the two-mile race to be honest. I usually just compete in the one mile and the 800-meter race.”
Cavanaugh viewed his accomplishment as just another day on the track; doing what he could to help the team. When he tied up his laces to run the race, that’s when he decided to really put in the effort for the record.
“It’s not like I set out to do it. I honestly just wanted to do my best and help out my teammates. As I was running, I was not thinking about it, I never really think about my time as I am running.”
Cavanaugh said that he will continue to run hard every chance he gets and that he would like to break the 800 meter record before he graduates.