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East Meadow's Brandon Love is Newsday's Athlete of the Week

East Meadow pole vaulter Brandon Love

East Meadow pole vaulter Brandon Love   Credit: James Escher

East Meadow’s Brandon Love remembers his first time pole vaulting at a high school indoor track meet as a freshman, but not for a good reason.

“I no-heighted,” Love said.

No-heighted means a pole vaulter fails to clear the bar in three attempts, and for Love that height was eight feet back in December of 2016.

After an inauspicious beginning Love has, well, blossomed in the pole vault.

The Jets senior made Nassau track and field history on Tuesday. After winning the 55 meters (6.56 seconds, the seventh fastest time in the state this season), and finishing second in the triple jump (41 feet) to teammate James Wagnac, all that was left for Love was the pole vault at the Nassau Conference II championships.

Love set a personal-best indoor mark of 14 feet, 6 inches on his third and final attempt, which gave him the opportunity to choose a new height.

“I thought just keep going,” Love said. “I was pretty dead [tired] after my other two events, but I thought — put it at 15 [feet] and get a PR [personal record].”

Not only did Love set a personal record, he surpassed the 35-year Nassau record of 14-9 3/4 inches set by Lawrence’s Mike Fischer in 1985, according to East Meadow coach Mike Ringhauser. [The Suffolk record is 15 feet, 9 inches by Mount Sinai’s Nick David in 2006.]

“To think in those 35 years, no one broke that mark," said Love, who is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week, and currently fifth in the state in pole vault. “I’m just grateful it’s me. It’s crazy to me.”

What might be crazy, or at least interesting, is what Love has to do in order to compete. East Meadow is like most high school track teams on Long Island — it does not have landing mats for its pole vaulters. Therefore, pole vaulters such as Love travel around like track and field nomads in search of facilities and mats.

Love — who cleared 15 feet last spring during the outdoor season — has traveled to Cold Spring Harbor High School (which has mats) to practice since his freshman year once or twice a week. Love and his mother, Lisa, also started making a 70-plus mile trip to Warwick in Orange County, New York, to a facility known as “The Barn” usually on Sundays during his junior year.

According to Ringhauser, Love ranks in the top 5 in Jets history in the 55 meters, long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault, and is a member of school-record 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay teams.

“It’s always, ‘Whatever you need me to do coach,’ ” said Ringhauser, whose Jets have won seven straight conference titles. “He’s never tired, and he’s always willing to do three events. He loves running relays. He’s a great kid, and he will be sorely missed next year.”

Love’s indoor season isn’t done quite yet. The Binghamton University-bound Love has a few more meets, and has qualified for the New Balance National Indoor championship at The Armory in March.

“It’s a good feeling knowing new athletes, when they look at all the [Nassau] records, they will see my name,” Love said. “It’s something for them to strive for.”

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