I was a witness to greatness at the 2023 Arcadia Invitational on Saturday night. Hana Moll broke the outdoor fifteen-foot barrier in the pole vault, and it’s hard to describe how lucky I feel just to be able to be an observer. That fact that I’ve got a camera in my hands is, at most, secondary to the opportunity to watch an elite athlete achieve what had previously been impossible.
No female prep athlete had ever cleared that height outdoors. The only other female high school athlete to clear 15 feet did it indoors. And that was Hana’s twin sister Amanda Moll, who cleared 15-1.5 at the National Pole Vault Summit in January. It was also Amanda’s outdoor record of 14-9.5 that she eclipsed. According to Milesplit, “The two sisters sit 1-2 on the all-time pole vault leaderboard both indoors and outdoors, with Amanda on top indoors and Hana taking the crown on the outdoor field.” This is a truly amazing pair of twin sisters.
I’ve witnessed a lot of amazing pole vault performances at previous Arcadia Invites. I shot this composite image of Sondre Guttormsen from the stands as a spectator at the 2018 Arcadia Invitational. That was five years ago. Since then, I’ve been blessed to meet people like Jimmy Su and Rich Gonzalez. Jimmy is a supremely talented and giving photographer who introduced me to Rich Gonzalez, the Meet Director for the Arcadia Invitational and the publisher at PrepCalTrack. As a result, I get a front seat to greatness. I will never take for granted.
It will take me hours to finish editing the photos taken on Friday and Saturday. I’ve delayed that editing to get these thoughts out of my head. Watching and capturing Hana as she enjoyed the fall, soaked up the adulation of the crowd, then hugged her sister was truly special. Lucky. That’s how I feel as I edit these photos and how I felt at that moment. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible for me. And thank you, Hana, for this amazing moment.
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