If you’re talking about today’s pole vaulting, with high tech flex-poles, composition runways, and large elevated landing pads of absorbent foam, it is a very modest height. But if you’re asking about 13 feet in 1937, with dirt runways, bamboo poles, and a sawdust landing pit, that’s pretty close to the moon.
But that is exactly what Jim Peterson of Carpinteria High School did, vaulting 13-1 5/S inches for one of the nation’s top marks, a mark he would have probably eclipsed in the CIF Finals except for a technical ruling: he had turned 19 just before the finals and couldn’t compete.
There’s more, like holding the school record in the 100 yard dash and finishing 2nd in the CIF pole vault as a Junior.
Now, think about this: he won 18 varsity letters in 5 sports during his career at Carpinteria High: football, basketball, baseball, and track. Then toss in a couple of tennis letters, and it spells incredible athlete.
Not only did he letter, but became the MVP of the football team and captain of an undefeated basketball team and continued his track career at Pasadena Junior College.
Such an outstanding athlete was Peterson that he was elected to the Helm’s Athletic Hall ofFame in 1958, one of the most prestigious awards in high school sports.
However, he was elected posthumously. On December 29, 1944, during WW II’s “Battle of the Bulge,” Jim Peterson was killed in action.