Teddy Scranton has never felt solid on the pole vault.
“My first year, I didn’t even vault 10 feet,” he said of his freshman year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “Which is really low. Like JV boys high school low.”
“I don’t have a feel for it,” he said. “I just kind of get up there and freak out. If I could have figured it out, I could have been a much better decathlete.”
Well, that’s weird, because Scranton, a 2013 Petaluma High grad and competing in his senior season at Cal Poly, is the newly crowned best decathlete in the Big West Conference, freaky pole vault and all.
At the championship meet in May, Scranton bested a field of 16 other athletes over the course of two days in the 10 decathlon disciplines: 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, javelin, 1,500 meters and yes, the pole vault. A Mustang hadn’t won the decathlon since 2009.
Scranton’s win sent the Mustangs into the individual championship meet a week later with a 10 point head start. For good measure, Scranton advanced in the javelin from the individual meet to the NCAA Div.1 West preliminary meet in at the University of Texas.
But it was the decathlon win that was the biggee. Scranton was back and forth with defending champ Tyler Nelson of UC Santa Barbara for two days.
In the end, Scranton’s big point hauls in the throws and the 1,500 meter race led him to 7,143 points to Nelson’s 6,944.
And to think that Scranton took up track in high school to get fitter for football.
Scranton was the Trojans’ best lineman on both offense and defense but was looking for a fitness boost in the spring season after he got cut from the baseball team.
Turns out Scranton, a guy who terrorized opponents on the Trojans’ line, was pretty good at this track thing.
He ran the 100- and 200-meter sprints and put the shot and threw the discus. It was in the discus that he caught Cal Poly’s attention.
Scranton, a standout student, had already gained admission to Cal Poly (along with UC Davis, USC and others) but hadn’t settled on where he wanted to go. He sent out feelers about walking on in football and track. Response was lukewarm.
Then Scranton threw a personal record of 163-10 at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions his senior year to earn a trip to the state meet. It was at the state meet in Clovis that a Cal Poly coach caught sight of him.
Seeing that he was a senior, she thought it was too late to lure the big Trojan to San Luis Obispo.
“Actually, he’s already going to Cal Poly,” Scranton remembers his coach, Reggie Pearson telling the coach.
“It went from me trying out to being a preferred walk-on. It was kind of a cool, funny story,” Scranton said.
The Mustangs coaching staff must be laughing now, having a bona fide gem fall into their laps.
Scranton finished third in the 2015 decathlon as a sophomore and fourth his junior year.