PROVIDENCE â€” Steven Vazquez came, he saw, he conquered.
The indoor high jump state title â€“ one that prior to Saturday's R.I. Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house could be described as elusive â€“ is now the property of the Central Falls senior.
He posted a winning leap of 6 feet, 8 inches, one actually equaled by his chief rival, Divon Bailey of Rogers. The tale of how Vazquez ultimately struck gold was based on pure technicality with the C.F. jumper hitting the bar fewer times than his counterpart during the final showdown.
For Vazquez, the time has come for him to clear aside some much sought-after space in his personal trophy case. The reigning two-time champion in the outdoor high jump discipline can now call himself an indoor champion, something he says has a nice ring to it.
A starter at guard for the Central Fallsâ€™ basketball team, Vazquez cited a slight tweak in his training regimen in the days leading up to his rendezvous with destiny as to why he was finally able to come up on top in the high jump. In the past heâ€™s spoken freely and openly about heading into meets relying exclusively on pure, raw ability with very little practice time under his belt.
Such is the life when youâ€™re a significant contributor on your high schoolâ€™s varsity hoops team where games followed by practice followed by even more games limits Vazquez from devoting time to his special craft on a fulltime basis.
â€śIt feels good to finish first with having the proper training that I would need to be at my prime,â€ť Vazquez stated while standing in the hallway of the PCTA. â€śI knew coming in that I would never compete in a high school indoor event again, so I tried real hard.â€ť
The bar for the state meet was initially set at 5-6 with Vazquez attempting his first jump at six feet. No problem there as next up was 6-2. He continued to sail along on his way to achieving a personal indoor best. His previous high was 6-7 at this yearâ€™s Northern Division Championships. Saturday also saw Vazquez extend his meet streak of posting leaps of 6-6 or greater to six.
Vazquez finished third at last yearâ€™s state meet behind 2011 Chariho graduate Innocent Jacob and Bailey. Fast forward to 2012, where Vazquez wound up as the only area athlete to achieve first-place distinction on the day Rhode Island sets aside to crown both individual and team feats on the indoor circuit.
â€śI was a little antsy, but I kept telling myself to be calm and not waste energy by moving around too much,â€ť Vazquez said when asked to describe his mindset coming in. â€śI need everything when it comes time to jump.â€ť
â€śVazquez just jumps through of the roof,â€ť was the praise offered by Tom Kenwood, the veteran Cumberland head coach who saw Vazquezâ€™ work up close Saturday while monitoring the progress of one his performers in Ryan Rei. The Clipper senior placed fourth in the high jump (6-2). â€śItâ€™s just a foregone conclusion that heâ€™s going to win.â€ť
Vazquez will now turn his attention to his duties with the C.F. basketball team and the open state tournament that gets under way Friday night. After that the next big athletic event on the docket is the New England high school track meet, scheduled for Friday, March 2 at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center in Boston.
Vazquez, who verbaled to the University of Connecticut last fall but still has a few loose ends top tie up before signing a letter of intent, moves forward with the mindset of seeking to continue the good fortune that was bestowed upon him on Saturday.
â€śI want to take all of them, New Englands and nationals,â€ť said Vazquez while offering a grin that revealed just how determined he is.