He was ready to soar through the air several more times this spring in what would be his finale as a collegiate track and field athlete.
But soon, Zane Griffith found himself grounded.
The coronavirus had rocked the United States and the world of Griffith, a senior pole vaulter at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina.
“I found out on my way back (to school) after spring break. I was heading back for an optional practice,” said the resident of Statts Mill road. “I found out we weren’t going to have school anymore and the next day the Big South Conference cancelled our season.”
Griffith had already known this was going to be a season filled with emotion with it being his last.
Pole vaulting has been a huge part of his life since sixth grade.
He never, though, could have imagined his career coming to a close before it ever got started.
Griffith has thrown his heart and soul into pole vaulting over the years.
It’s all he’s even known for the most part when it comes to athletics.
You could say, it was love at first vault.
“I tried it and I just fell in love it. I did some gymnastics for a while when I was young and a lot of people told me there were similarities (to pole vaulting),” he said. “I tried it and just kept at it.”
As a middle school pole vaulter, Griffith was shining meet after meet. He earned himself a profile story in Jackson Newspapers about his pole vaulting prowess following his eighth grade year – rare for someone in middle school.
Usually it takes excellence at the high school level for that to happen.
In high school, Griffith didn’t disappoint.
He placed all four years at the State Meet while wearing the royal blue and white of Ripley High.
Griffith had to contend with one of the state’s best-ever as Capital High’s Tristen Slater was also coming on the scene during that time frame.
Slater earned a scholarship to Tennessee, a NCAA track and field powerhouse.
“We were pretty close,” said Griffith.
Griffith, clearing 14-0, placed second to Slater, who cleared 16-0, his senior year in the 2016 State Meet.
Griffith was third as a junior at 13-06.
He was second to Slater as a sophomore in 2015. Slater cleared 14-06 and Griffith 14-0.
As a freshman, Griffith was fourth by clearing the bar at 12-06.
When Griffith finished up days as a pole vaulter at Ripley, he was far from done with the event.
He took his talents to High Point.
While there, he continued to rise to a new level.
“Moving on from high school to college, the workouts were more intense. When I first got there, we had a timed run that I wasn’t prepared for and we had three lifts a week,” he said. “But I got used to it. Plus, I had to adapt to school.”
He enjoyed everything High Point had to offer, from his studies to his involvement with indoor and outdoor track and field to the walking daily around the school’s beautiful campus.
“It’s just a really nice place,” said Griffith, who is finishing up his second semester of schoolwork online.
Griffith will earn a B.S. in biology.
He had several memorable moments while at High Point as a pole vaulter.
Griffith said from an individual standpoint, finishing second at last year’s Big South Conference Championship Outdoor Meet stands out. He had a lifetime best of 4.76 m in that meet.
Other career highlights included Griffith winning the Liberty Twilight Qualifier, the JDL Early Bird Duals and placing third in the Duke Invitational.
Like in high school, Griffith just kept getting better and better.
Team-wise, he was part of a championship that year. In addition, the High Point women’s team also captured a conference title.
“That was pretty cool to be a part of it,” he said.
Like all athletes, Griffith knew the end was near as he approached his senior season.
Never, though, in a million years would he have expected it come to such an abrupt halt.
“It’s been tough, but I’ve just tried to move on,” he said.
His attitude is refreshing. He accepted the hand he was dealt.
Griffith has a 3.3 GPA and has been accepted into graduate school at Marshall University in the medical sciences program.
His ultimate goal is to get into medical school and become a doctor.
He would love to work in sports medicine.
His memories of competing as a pole vaulter will stay with him the rest of his life.
The support he received from his parents, Dave and Annette, was second to none.
“My whole college career, they never missed one meet, indoor or outdoor,” he said. “They never missed a middle school meet or a high school meet.”
He treasures so much that came with his pole vaulting, including the weekly trips he would make to Morgantown with his mom to train while in high school.
“We went up there once a week,” he said. “It was special.”
Zane Griffith is an outstanding young adult. As good as any parent could ever hope to have in their lives.
He was handed a huge blow at the end of his college athletic career.
He’ll miss the thrill of running down the approach, sticking the pole and maneuvering himself into the air and over the bar as a pole vaulter. There was nothing like it.
And while that time of his life has past, many good things are on the horizon.
Just like pole vaulting, when it comes Zane Griffith's future the sky is indeed the limit.