If this was two years ago, Dublin Scioto High School senior Michael Shibko could feel pretty good about his chances of making it to the Division I state meet in the pole vault.

If this was two years ago, Dublin Scioto High School senior Michael Shibko could feel pretty good about his chances of making it to the Division I state meet in the pole vault.

After all, he holds the program record in the event (14 feet, 9 inches) for a team that has a history of sending pole vaulters to the state track and field meet.

Shibko broke the program record on March 27 at the Icebreaker Invitational. After clearing 12-6, he felt good enough to skip to 14-0. He cleared that height and then shattered the previous program record of 14-2 by clearing 14-3, 14-6 and 14-9 on his first attempt.

But the true measure of where Shibko stands came on his next three attempts. He failed to clear 15-0 in each attempt and, nowadays, 15-0 is the magic mark. Clearing that height gets one into the conversation of potential state qualifiers, but it hardly guarantees a state-qualifying spot in this region, as this year there happens to be an inordinate number of pole vaulters in the area who are regularly clearing 15-0.

"This is my 28th year coaching," said Pickerington Central coach Robb Hammond, whose son Grant is a top-level pole vaulter. "I have never seen the pole vault at this level. Never."

Shibko broke 2008 graduate Jimmy Bullock's program record. Bullock made it to state as a senior by jumping 14-0 at regional to finish fourth.

If the Division I state indoor meet held March 20 at the University of Akron was any indication, 14-0 isn't going to cut it this season. Olentangy Liberty's Joey Uhle won the indoor state title by clearing 16-0. Runner-up Austin Hicks of Olentangy also cleared 16-0. Uhle's twin brother, Chris, jumped 15-6 to finish third and Big Walnut's Bret Myers, who also cleared 15-6, finished fourth.

Myers was a foot better than Amherst Steele's Matt Zvosec, who placed fifth (14-6). Gahanna's Jacob Blankenship finished eighth (14-0).

Blankenship was an afterthought at the indoor state meet, but that changed on April 17 when he won the Dublin Coffman Invitational with a program-record vault of 15-8.

If Shibko wants to be part of the conversation at the state meet June 5-6 at Ohio State, it appears as though setting the program record isn't going to be enough. Last year, 14-9 placed seventh in the state, but since only the top four pole vaulters from this area are going to make it out of regional, that height probably isn't going to cut it.

"That's something I've known for a long time," Shibko said. "I'll probably have to go higher (than 14-9), but I'm kind of under the radar right now."

At the moment, the Uhle brothers are getting a lot of attention.

Shortly after breaking the Division I state record of 16-1 - held by Greenville's Kevin Leland - last Friday at Liberty's Freedom Relays by clearing 16-3, Chris Uhle decide to go after Liberty's program record.

On his third attempt, he cleared 16-6 to surpass his own state record as well as the unofficial state record that Joey Uhle set 10 days earlier.

Joey Uhle unofficially broke the state mark during a dual meet against Dublin Jerome on April 13 by clearing 16-5. The height wasn't official because of an OHSAA rule that states there must be five teams present in competition for a record to count.

Meanwhile, Chris Uhle not only broke the Division I state record, he also set the overall state mark. The previous state best was 16-4, which was set by Medina Buckeye's John Coyne in the Division II state meet in 1986.

After the Freedom Relays, Chris Uhle had a hard time putting the feat into prospective, but his brother didn't.

"One inch," Joey Uhle said in mock disappointment. "You got me by one inch."

"It means that my name goes down in the record books," Chris Uhle said. "It means that I beat my older brother. It means that the pole vault legacy of the Uhles lives on."

The recent feats by the Uhle brothers raise the bar for the rest of the area's pole vaulters.

"It actually makes you want to jump higher," said Hicks, who placed fourth at state last year at 15-3. "It makes you hungry."

Hicks is the only area athlete who competed in the pole vault in the Division I state meet last season. Joey Uhle qualified for state a year ago after placing third at regional (14-6) behind champion Hicks (15-0), but he couldn't compete at state after breaking his pole and thumb at regional.

Now Joey Uhle must block out that moment. Part of competing in the pole vault is being able to block out everything that could go wrong.

"You have to trust that when that pole bends and you go back, you have to trust that pole," said Scioto boys coach Kevin Foley, who coached a state champion pole vaulter at Dublin High School in 1991. "When the pole bends back, you're looking right up at the sky. There are very few vaulters that are patient enough to stay back on the pole to let their hips rise above their shoulders."

"You have to be a little bit crazy," Joey Uhle said. "You're going 16 feet-plus up in the air. Obviously, you can't be afraid of heights."

You also can't be afraid of hard work. The area's elite pole vaulters have an indoor pit they can use during the cold months. Former Ohio State coach Dave Garcia has one in Lewis Center and Grove City pole vault coach Thomas Bock has one at Grove City.

Watkins Memorial coach Marty Dahlman conducts a summer pole vault camp as well as a coaches clinic. Foley describes him as the area's pole vault "guru."

"What's happening in this area is pole vaulting has become more of a 10-month-a-year sport," said Dahlman, who started as an assistant at Watkins Memorial in 1978. "They'll jump in track and jump all summer and they're jumping indoors come October. That's created pressure on pole vaulters throughout the area, that you have to do indoor if you want to be one of the elite guys."

Shibko decided last offseason to train at an indoor facility for the first time.

"The highest I jumped before was 13-6 and that was a lucky jump," Shibko said. "I went up (to the indoor facility) four times a week (during the offseason) and just pole vaulted. I've gone almost two feet better than last year."

Three feet better might get him to state.

Then again, this year it might not.