Declan Ritzenthaler didn’t get a personal-best mark Thursday at the Class 3A Niles West Sectional, but the junior ultimately achieved what every athlete wants at this time of season, which is to qualify for the state meet.
Ritzenthaler cleared 14 feet, 1 inch to advance to final weekend of the season for the second year in a row. He made it to the finals as a sophomore, but he didn’t place, finishing 14th with a mark of 14-0.
After securing his spot at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ritzenthaler attempted 14-7, but hit the bar on all three tries. He was looking to better his career-best vault of 14-6.
“I wanted to set my PR, and I should I have got it,” Ritzenthaler said. “I know I can get it.”
Loyola assistant coach Ryan Gibbons, who works with the vaulters and sprinters, said Ritzenthaler is a better technician than he was last year.
“He was a raw talent as a sophomore,” Gibbons said. “Now, he is more conscious of how he’s vaulting and more in tune with what his body is doing. He’s taken a step forward this season.”
Ritzenthaler was the lone Loyola athlete to qualify for the state meet at Niles West. The Ramblers finished tied for 11th with 14 points. Prospect won the meet with 96.
The preliminaries are set for May 26, with the finals scheduled for May 27.