Brian McSweeney always felt like it was a just a matter of time before he took his pole vault game to new heights.
That time came on Saturday when the senior at East Brunswick put on a sensational show in the boys Group 4 competition at the State Group 4 Championships at Franklin High School in Somerset.
McSweeney, wo came into the meet with a PR of 15-9, soared over the bar at 16-0 on his first attempt to tie the Group 4 meet record and shatter the Middlesex County record. McSweeney broke the Middlesex County record of 15-9 that he shared with Dan Bertolami of Woodbridge, who cleared that height in 1984, and his clearance of 16-0 equaled the Group 4 meet record that Dan Heyburn of Cranford set in 1980.
McSweeney had the bar raised to 16-5 as he attempted to break the All Groups record of 16-2.75 set in 2004 by Adam Sarafian of Ocean Township, who owns the state record of 17-4.50. McSweeney had some good tries as he got on a bigger pole for his attempts at 16-5, but couldn't quite get over it.
McSweeney, whose been waiting since he made 15-9 in July of 2020 to raise his PR, was ecstatic to get over 16-0 for the first time.
"I was struggling earlier in the season with the standards, but I've gotten all that figured out and it all came together for me today,'' said McSweeney, who had no misses until he got to 16-5.
Why did McSweney go to 16-5 when he could have chosen a slightly lower height to try and break Sarafian's All Groups record?
"I want to get over five meters (which is 16-5) before I graduate,'' said McSweeney. "So I just went for it. I got on a bigger pole for 16-5, and I really feel like once I get used to that pole I can clear bigger heights.''
The West Point-bound McSweeney, a true student of the event, said he's targeting the meet record at the Meet of Champions next Saturday at South Plainfield.
"I know that record is 16-4 (Will Nesbitt of Millburn in 1980), and I am going to do my best to try to make five meters and break that record,'' said McSweeney.
McSweeney knows he will have to be at his best to beat junior Max Zuckerman of Pascack Hills, who won the Group 2 title by clearing 15-0. Zuckerman has made a Bergen County record 15-8 this season, which was the No. 1 vault in the state this season until McSweeney made 16-0.
"I know there is going to be great competition with Max, and I think we'll push each other to some big heights,'' said McSweeney. "I can't wait.''