RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — For most of us, being suspended 15 feet in the air is a frightening proposition. For pole vaulter Shane Racey, it’s all in a day’s work.
And among athletes across the state, he’s now the one to beat.
Racey, a 10th grader at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School, recently set a new indoor state record for high school sophomores by successfully pole vaulting an astonishing 15’1” in the air.
“When I went over the bar, on the way down I knew it was a good jump and a record,” Racey said. “I have had my eye on the record for a while. I tied the record in eighth grade and again in ninth grade. It felt good breaking one.”
Racey broke the state record at the state indoor track and field competition, where he competed along with track teammate Cristian Carr.
Racey is coached by his father, RCS Track and Field Coach Ronald Racey, who said his son has been competing in the event since middle school.
“He has been pole vaulting since eighth grade,” Coach Racey said. “He tied the eight grade record at 12’9”. Then as a freshman he went 14’6”, which tied the freshman record. This year he broke one at 15’1”.”
The record Racey broke was for indoor pole vaulting, which competes in the winter. The outdoor record is slightly higher, at 15’6”. He also competes in the outdoor event in the spring.
Coach Racey said his son has been involved in sports for a long time, but only joined the RCS track team two years ago.
“He always used to hang around pole vaulting, but in eighth grade it was his first year of officially doing [the sport],” Coach Racey said. “He had some really good 12th grade seniors who helped him out, so he learned a lot from them.”
Shane Racey is a busy teenager. In addition to his involvement in track and field — both indoor and outdoor — he is on the boys’ basketball team for RCS, which also competes in the winter season. That makes for a lot of practices during the winter months.
But his accomplishments are not limited to the sports fields. Racey is also on the high school’s Science Olympiad team, and he is an accomplished percussionist in the school band, according to his music teachers.
When he broke the pole vaulting record, Racey said he met the athlete — this year a junior — who had held the record previously as a sophomore. That record was set in 2017 by an athlete from a high school in Rochester, Racey said.
Looking ahead, Racey said he definitely wants to continue his sport in college.
“I don’t care where I go, I just want to be able to compete,” he said.
So, what does it feel like being suspended more than 15 feet in the air, with only a thin, flexible pole to keep you up there?
“Most people look at pole vaulting and think it’s scary, but I don’t really feel that way,” Racey said. “I know I am going to land on a mat — most of the time at least.”
With the top jump in the state and a new record, Racey is now eligible to compete in several national competitions, but has opted to sit them out.
“Most people who go to nationals are juniors, seniors or even college level,” he said. “I am only a sophomore, so I have time.”
Also competing at the state competition was runner Cristian Carr, a senior at RCS who competed in the 300-meter dash. This was Carr’s first time at states.
“It was really cool,” Carr said. “You had to be more competitive than usual, so it was a little stressful, too. But it made me feel like I wanted to do more.”
Carr has been competing for RCS since middle school. He became eligible to compete at the state competition by running a qualifying time at sectionals, and then again at the qualifier, held at University at Albany.
Carr ran the 300-meter dash at states in 37.6 seconds.
“It was a good experience,” he said.