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Only Track & Field News can keep you fully informed about which athletes to watch, who’s hot and who’s not. We take you step-by-step, meet-by-meet, through the indoor season, outdoor conference championships, the domestic relay and invitational carnivals, the NCAAs, the U.S. Nationals, the Grand Prix events in Europe and of course the Olympics and World Championships. Each issue is packed with meet stories, performer lists and other useful stats, interviews and profiles of your favorite athletes, action photos galore, opinion columns and feature articles, and everything else you need to keep abreast of the total track scene. If high school track is your special interest, seven issues during the year carry prep top performer lists and reports. If you like track, you’ll LOVE Track & Field News. Call the toll-free number below today and we’ll start your subscription immediately.

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Let’s Take a Trip!

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Rick and Jenn Suhr: One in a Million

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Reed High School

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Competition Strategy

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FROM THE EDITOR This month’s issue is one of the most exciting yet! We can’t wait for you to enjoy the stories that await you.

Bubba Sparks has given us yet another information-filled article to get our competitive spirits going strong. He has written a list of 15 competition strategies that he has proved to be beneficial in his own experience. Anybody looking to gain that competitive edge will benefit from these lessons Bubba has learned and is willing to share with us. Enjoy! Merritt Grace

We also have a great article on Edward C. Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada. In this article, Lynn Mentzer has given us a bundle of wonderful information about this top-notch school: including stats on their current vaulters and alumni, the programs and competition in Nevada, and what their athletes have learned from pole vaulting. You won’t want to miss this one. We know you will be amazed by what Reed High has to offer. What is most exciting about this month’s issue is our article on Rick Suhr. Coach Suhr is the exclusive coach and husband of Olympic Gold Medalist Jenn Suhr. He is a class act and a role model for any coach or athlete out there. Coach Suhr’s dedication to being the best, and his unique training methods have gotten him to the very top and he has shared, in detail, how he was able to achieve all that he has. We can’t be happier with how our talk with him turned out. And, even better, we also opened up the conversation to you (our readers). We added in some great questions that you wanted to ask Coach Suhr and he responded freely. Make sure to savor every bit of this one as you read. It is full of so much information and sound advice.

Thank you again for reading. We always appreciate you joining us each month. This month’s issue will be hard to top, but stay with us as March rolls around for more stories on some wonderful people. Take care. Editor Doug Bouma editor@thevaultermag.com

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75 SC STATE CHAMPIONS, 10 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS, AND 3 “TEAM USA” (WORLD TEAM) SINCE 1998.

www.ShealyAthletics.com Rusty@ShealyAthletics.com

803-315-5998

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Let’s Take a Trip! Penny Hanson

Juniors, it is time for you to visit colleges! What? You say that you have been to visit your friend/brother/girlfriend/ sister at their college already? What? You have spent time on a campus during your summer pole vault/scholars/science camp? What? Your mom and dad went to that college so they can just tell you all about it? Not a chance! You need to put yourself on the campuses that you are interested in as an educated consumer. You need to attend an information session, take a tour, talk to students and walk the campus to understand what makes this place tick. What is it that calls to you to attend this school? Or perhaps, what is it that cements your decision that there is no way in the world you would ever go to this school? (This is also a great time for mom and dad to relive their glory days and maybe to learn something new). It’s time to travel! When you are considering a college visit trip, I suggest that you research other campuses

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in the area of your school and visit them as well, especially if you are travelling across the country. A thorough visit will take you 4-6 hours. Here are my suggestions to make the most of your visit time:

1. Before you leave home, schedule a campus tour and information session. These run concurrently so that you can do both in your visit time.

2. Visit dorms that have coed and single gender floors to see how you like them. Find out if all freshmen have to live in the dorms, does everyone eat at the cafeteria, etc. If possible, arrange to stay at the school dorms if this is a final visit. This is a great way to get a feel for the school! 3. Sit and talk with students in the Student Union. Ask them the questions on topics you really want to know about such as the social atmosphere on campus, how is the food, weekend life, where they go in the nearby city, how accessible are the teachers, etc. 4. Visit the library! You will be surprised how much time you actually spend there once you start college. Take a trip around the

immediate campus to look at fraternity and sorority houses. How far away are the dorms from the main classroom buildings? Is it a bike ride or a short walk? You may have to do it in the snow!

they are doing that! Some guidelines for meeting with an admissions officer:

6. Finally, take pictures so it will stay fresh in your mind. After a couple of campuses, they’ll start to run together. Use your phone to record your description of each campus so you will remember which one is which!

9. Since you’ve done your homework on the colleges, ask some questions that will be directly applicable to you such as how does the college look at letters of recommendation from alumni or donors. Do they prefer to have letters from teachers instead?

5. Visit the athletic facilities (rec center, campus gyms and practice fields) to see where to go to work out. What intramural sports do they offer? Pick up a recreation class schedule.

7. Go to the Bookstore and buy a t-shirt!

To get the most out of your visit, schedule an interview with an admissions officer. Each school has an admissions person assigned to the area of the country that you live in. You will find their name on the Admissions Office website. Email them and ask to set up a time to meet. This person will be reviewing your application and it is a great benefit if they can put your face to your name when

8. Take a walk by yourself before your interview so that you can talk more specifically about what you saw and liked about the campus. This is a good starting point for your conversation. Your walk also will give you an idea before you talk to them about whether you would consider the school as a candidate.

10. Ask about the college’s involvement with the nearby community if the social aspect is important to you.

11. Inquire about the computer facilities both in the dorms and the libraries. Is there free Wi-Fi on the entire campus? 12. What about Greek life? How are sororities and fraternities viewed by administration given the pro-

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pensity for alcohol and disturbances? What does the Greek Council provide that is considered a positive influence on the school and community?

13. Ask what the administrator thinks are the college’s core strengths in terms of majors, social functions, clubs, etc.

14. What has the college had difficulty with in terms of the student body, and what is being done to correct the situation? Examples may be overcrowded housing, police involvement in campus disputes, excessive alcohol presence, etc.

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15. How involved is the faculty with the student government organization? If you like politics, you will find student government very interesting!

16. What are some upcoming campus projects that will affect the student body i.e. new research centers, replacing the student union, renovating dorms, etc.?

17. If you are at a public university, ask what percentage of classes are taught by teaching assistants (TAs) and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) in relation to professors. This may be very important, especially for the sciences and math.

18. If the counselor asks, be sure you can recite your SAT scores, your GPA, and your extracurricular activities so that they know you fall into their criteria. Ask them if this sounds like a student that would fit in well with the students they are trying to bring in!

Above all, ask anything you like and enjoy the experience! Remember that you are the consumer in this case. You want to be sure that you purchase the correct product. Have fun!

Penny Hanson Hanson College Consultants penny@hansoncollegeaccess.com


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www.thevaultermag.com Sarah Sheppard

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Rick and Jenn Suhr: One in a Million By: Michelle Walthall Coach Rick Suhr, husband and coach of Olympian pole vaulter Jenn Suhr, is one of the hardest working and most driven coaches around. He has led the World with the highest women’s vault 4 years in a row in outdoor track. It all started with his upbringing in a family that demanded excellence. He tells us, “I was the youngest of 5 kids with a high emphasis from my mother on athletics. She was a woman that would not accept losing or failure. For example: It was a house unheated, except for three fireplaces, which was supplied with wood by my three brothers and me. Long, cold, freezing days splitting wood was a way of life. Surprisingly, my father never saw me ever compete in pole vault or in wrestling. He just believed in hard work and earning a dollar. My brothers and mother were the influence on me athletically.”

Rick Suhr Olympic Gold Medalist Coach

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Wrestling has been a big part of Coach Suhr’s life since he was a young man. “Both my brother John and myself were state champions and All-Americans in wrestling,” he says. “…My 3 brothers drove me hard into wrestling. We lived in the town of Spencerport, New York which was a wrestling powerhouse. It was not uncommon to have 2,000 people at the matches. It was much like a UFC octagon; the fans and competitors


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were intense.” It was wresting that gave Coach Suhr his career start as well. He says, “I actually became one of the youngest coaches in our area for wrestling at age 19. I started coaching pole vault at 24.” In his own vaulting days, Coach Suhr jumped 5.10m.

Jenn Suhr 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist

Along with coaching, was teaching. “I taught in the public school system for 7 years from 1996-2003,” Coach Suhr lets us know. “I taught alternative education and loved it. I still have students come up to me to this day and thank me for influencing them. I am so grateful that I had impact on them.” One student of Coach Suhr’s, who returned the favor and left an impression on him, is 2004 National Champion Tiffany Maskulinski. Coach Suhr lets us know that she was “a shorter, slower vaulter, but came closest to reaching her potential (1st high school student to jump 14’ outdoors). To this day, it helped us invent a different method of pole vault”.

A highlight of Coach Suhr’s high school coaching career is that he coached the first and second high school girls ever to the 14’ barrier: 2005 High School National Champion Mary Saxer and Runner-Up

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Tiffany Maskulinski. “The high school record was 13’4” and I had both these girls break the national record at the same time in 1 meet, by the end of the day, the 3 of us had moved the record to 14’. That to me was unique and so difficult to do,” says Coach Suhr. “There is always a mental barrier to breaking records and jumping what no one else has jumped,” he continues, “But, in the case of both high school girls and Jenn, that mental edge is developed over a long period of time. It is not something

that is done overnight. It has to be real.”

Coaching Olympian Jenn Suhr is another highlight of Coach Suhr’s career; although it was not easy convincing her to switch from basketball to pole vaulting. Coach Suhr tells us, “The 1st two times I asked her she said no and the 3rd time she said yes. She had to finish up her college season in basketball before she was allowed to pole vault. The number one characteristic I saw in Jenn was an aggressive

toughness. Actually she had no gymnastics background and competed in track her senior year in high school in pentathlon.” In only 10 months, Jenn Suhr went from beginner to US National Champion. We asked Coach Suhr about that and he says, “The odds of that are almost impossible and to this day remains one of the greatest athletic achievements I have ever heard of. It was a lot of dedication, a lot of obedience, and a lot of hard work from a coach and an athlete. This

Jenn Suhr, Derek Bouma, Rick Suhr

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will prove to be the common thread for all Jenn’s and my accomplishments.” To clarify the word ‘obedience’, Coach Suhr lets us know this: “Simply put, the coach’s and the athlete’s goals have to be similar. If the level of sacrifice or dedication varies between the two you are going to have conflict. Know your priorities and know your athlete’s priorities and make sure they match up.”

Jenn Suhr and fan at the 2014 Pole Vault Summit

2006 was the year Coach Suhr started exclusively coaching Jenn Suhr. Regarding this choice he says, “In 2006 I had established myself as a successful high school coach, but critics of me said, ‘he could never do it at a high level’. The challenge was set and I was pushed, therefore I pushed back.” He also adds, “Jenn and I are both equally over competitive. Our priorities are the same on winning and the level of sacrifice that we are willing to commit to reach it.” So what does it take to get to where Coach Suhr is? His answer is this: “I feel the differences between good and great coaches are coaches who can make an athlete believe: believe in themselves more than they could have ever believed in themselves normally. The greatest talent I have, as a coach, is making an

athlete believe they can achieve something: not the illusion of believing, but a true selfesteem and self-confidence which is an edge of skill the athlete now holds. Jenn says it’s the ‘x’ factor that you can’t explain. Some people can just make you believe.” As far as his

unique coaching style, he adds: “I just figured out a lot of grey areas and holes in technical models that were out there. I just saw the event differently and developed my own model.”

We also wanted to know what Coach Suhr thinks about

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Brad or Jenn have. The difference is: ‘what have they done as individuals?’ and ‘how do we trace their steps specifically for success?’ I would say invalid marks overall hurt us the most. In other words: marks on downhill runways or tailwind days. Inflated marks hurt our credibility overseas and affect our elite athletes directly in both appearance fees and respect. By far, the ability to break or threaten records (American or world), and the ability to earn Olympic or world medals [are America’s greatest assets in vaulting]. Marketing wise, these are the greatest things we have going for us.”

Jenn Suhr

the current culture of pole vault training in the United States. He says, “Jenn and Brad Walker are exceptional. Many people feel we are in trouble overall. I feel the system is set up to be more beneficial to Europeans in a lot of different ways. We actually have good

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vaulters, it’s just the rest of the world is improving faster. A lot of people can point out what is wrong with American vaulting, but very few people possess the traits to fix it and a lot of times these people are never asked. I really believe there are many vaulters with the potential that

Specifically for female vaulters, Coach Suhr has this to say about them reaching the level of his wife: “Anybody can be beat on any day, but when Jenn and Isinbayeva are on, it’s a different meet. 5 meters will always be a great jump for a woman. Coach Rick Suhr had this to say about the women’s vault. “Anybody can be beat on any day, I’ve seen it.” But when Jenn and Isinbayeva are on, it’s a different meet and exciting to watch. 5 meters will always be a great jump for a woman. Jenn has been significant marketing for American pole vaulting. She has helped the event in so many ways that people don’t know. She is exceptional in role model, work ethic, perseverance,


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and elegance. Unfortunately, these traditional qualities don’t market well anymore in modern day society.”

After reaching greatness at the Olympics with Jenn Suhr in 2008 and 2012, the track and field Olympic community recognized Coach Suhr as the USOC Ikkos Award for coaching. When asked, his response to this was, “The hardest thing in sports that I have ever seen is an Olympic silver medalist who is judged by the media and critics to be a failure unless 4 years later they

can achieve Gold. That is a long 4 years and a very unfair situation for an athlete or coach. Jenn and I achieved gold after 4 years waiting. Yes, it was personal.” In addition to being awarded the USOC Ikkos Award, Coach Suhr has 14 US titles, 10 American pole vault records, an Olympic Trials record, 3 world medals (including the Olympic gold and silver), and an indoor world record of 16’5.5”. His response to these honors is this: “I don’t cherish one thing the most, but the combination of all the things together. To look at Jenn’s pedi-

gree is incredible, we have been very blessed”. A result of hard work, dedication and coaching, Jenn also has the 11 highest jumps ever by an American. This time around, we thought we would add some questions from our readers, and here are a few of them: To Coach Suhr: “What is the single most desirable attribute you look for when ‘shopping’ for a potential pole vaulter?” David Brannan

Jenn Suhr 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Pole Vault Pole.

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February 2014 issue Rick Suhr and Derek Bouma www.thevaultermag.com UCS Pole Vault Summit

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Answer: “Flat out obedience. A lot of people just don’t like that word. It’s too harsh or too old school. But if you do not have strict obedience, how far are you really going to make it in an event this difficult or any aspect in life that proves difficult?”

To Jenn Suhr: “Hey Jenn, what are you goals for 2014 in pole vault? How do you plan to reach those goals? And you’re an amazing athlete! Congrats!”

Bryan Cadena

Answer: “It’s been a hard 3 years and this is finally an off year in track. I am looking forward to enjoying the vault and making some corrections in it without the pressures of having to compete on the world stage.”

To Rick and Jenn Suhr: “How do you guys work on Jenn’s speed and strength? And how do you integrate both components into her jumps? Best wishes, Martina.” Martina Schultze

Answer: “A good rule of thumb is we spend 1/3 of the time on the technical, 1/3 of the time on the physical, and 1/3 of the time on mental.”

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To Coach Suhr: “From younger vaulters to the elite high school vaulters what is the best ratio and amount of time to spend on strength and speed work, because a common error in high school pole vault is the desire to only vault?” Nick Neral

Answer: “At the high school level, I feel most of the time should be spent on technique. Vaulting, short run vaulting and drills: I would teach them to do some form running and make sure their run mechanics are decent, but most of the gains at the high school level are going to be done through technique. To Coach Suhr: “What is the best way to teach a young vaulter what needs to happen at the top of the pole? ...our school has been very helpful to our track team, but we have no high bars, rope, swings etc. ...poles, standards and an old pit.” Russ French

Answer: “You can hang gymnastics rings (crossfit rings) from anything, so that is your best way to learn the up top part.”

To Coach Suhr: “It’s not any secret you push

Jenn very hard emotionally at meets, and I’m sure as well in practice. With your background in wrestling, how do you feel that style of coaching works in pole vaulting, and do you coach with that style with everyone?” Jamie Steffen

Answer: “Believe it or not, Jenn pushes herself as much, or more, than I push her. We have similar goals, priorities, and competitiveness; that is the key to a successful relationship between a coach and an athlete.” To Coach Suhr: “Will you, Rick, coach pole vault after Jenn at an elite level around the world (travel with someone)? Jamie Steffen

Answer: “My future plans after Jenn…I really don’t know. I may choose to coach a group of elite vaulters, along with Jenn as a team effort, or I may return to coaching wrestling. I might even coach some basketball or softball with Jenn.”

Whatever is in store for this power couple, we know it will be great. Be on the lookout for some amazing things!


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Jenn Suhr

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Reed High School Enjoys the Friendly Rivalry of Nevada Vaulting By Michelle Walthall Lynn Mentzer with Edward C. Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada was kind enough to tell us all about their pole vault team, starting off with: “Due to the size and sparse population of Nevada there are basically 2 markets: Northern Nevada (Reno/Sparks/Carson City) and Southern Nevada (Las Vegas). For the most part we see the same competition week in and week out. Because of the distance to Vegas we only see those teams at State. However, being close to Sacramento and the Bay Area we are able to travel into California and see quality competition. Most of the vaulters in our region know each other quite well and are friendly rivals.” “Reed High School has always had great quantities of pole vaulters each year and outstanding athletes to choose

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from,” Mentzer continues. “Reed High School has had a rich tradition of vaulter people from the past: Becky Holliday (1998) - career best 15’1¾” (2010)…state champion in the pole vault… with a best of 12’3”...second at 2012 Olympic Trials…member of the 2013 World Championships team. She began her college career at Clackamas Community College, where she set a community college record with a jump of 14’4”. She moved onto Oregon, where she won the NCAA outdoor title in 2003 in a NCAA record and set a collegiate record of 14’8”. After placing second at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Holliday finished ninth in the 2012 Summer Games. She’s a seven-time medalist in the USA Outdoor/Indoor Championships, and Ashley Feinberg (1997) - state champion in the pole vault

(1996 and 1997). In 1997, set a NFHS national record of 12’7” and also jumped the second best high school jump ever (behind Melissa Price all-time high school best) out of season winning the Golden West Invitational in 12’8”. She was also a three-time state runnerup in the high jump. She continued her college career at Kansas with a best of 12’10”.”

The tradition of good quality vaulters joining the Reed High Raiders continues on this year. Mentzer tells us, “We currently have 9 [vaulters] at Reed High School; some very good freshmen and sophomores: Makayla Linebargera freshman… and a member of Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club in Reno… came away as Jr. Olympic All-American at the recent USATF National Junior


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www.thevaultermag.com Troy Gingerich, Kara Day, Malcom Malizia, Wade Eiler, Sam Chalupa, Dallas Moss, Makayla Linebarger, Ben Stevens

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Olympics Championship. Linebarger won the 13-14 girls’ pole vault with an American age-group record vault of 12’3½”. The previous record of 11’5¾” was held by Megan Gray of Hays, Texas. Dallas Moss- a freshman… and a member of Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club in Reno came away as Jr. Olympic All-American at the recent USATF National Junior Olympics Championship. Moss took a 2nd place finish of his own in the 13-14 boys’ pole vault. Although not clearing his career best, 12’0”, on this day, Moss managed to clear 11’9¾”. Troy Gingerich - a sophomore… and a member of Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club in Reno jumped a best of 10’6” as a freshman. Bryce Bryant - a sophomore… and a member of Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club in Reno jumped a best of 9’0” as a freshman. Malcom Malizia - a sophomore… jumped a best of 10’0” as a freshman.

Sam Chalupa - a sophomore… jumped a best of 10’0” as a freshman.

Kara Day- a junior… and a member of Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club in Reno. Kara jumped a best of 9’0” as a sophomore. Ben Stevens- a junior…is typically a distance runner for the track team, but loves to come over and vault for fun is his spare time. Ben jumped a best of 7’6” as a sophomore.

Wade Eiler- our lone senior to bring some leadership to our young pole vaulters. Wade jumped a best of 10’0”as a junior.”

Some extra exciting facts Mentzer gave us are that, according to all-athletics.net, Makayla Linebarger was the #1 13-14yr old in the world in 2013, and that her and Dallas Moss are both expected State qualifiers as Freshman. Not too shabby at all. The team is free to train as they like over the summer/offseason, but many of them attend Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club. They also have the great opportunity to be a part of the Annual Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada, and they enjoy the help of team parents.

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This amazing team has learned some great things as well. Kara Day says, “Pole vault has taught me working diligently towards a goal for a long period of time is worth it in the end. You need patience, and have confidence in yourself. Hard work will eventually pay


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off and good things take time.” Makayla Linebarger says, “Pole vault has taught me that the only thing that can hold you back is yourself. It’s taught me that I always have to give my all mentally and physically. I’ve learned how to turn a bad day into a good day by just thinking positively.” Troy Gingerich says,

Troy Gingerich, Kara Day, Malcom Malizia, Wade Eiler, Sam Chalupa, Dallas Moss, Makayla Linebarger, Ben Stevens

“I have learned that I can do anything that I work hard for.” And Dallas Moss says, “Pole vaulting has taught me a lot mentally and physically. It’s a sport where both mental and physical sets have to be in the

game or things don’t work out.” These are certainly some good lessons to carry through life.

Behind good athletes are good coaches, or course. Reed High School’s track and field

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program has 9 coaches: Dale Moss (head coach, sprints/ relays), Chris Pine (distance), Dave Snearly (hurdles), Cathleen Sage (high jump), Ryan Cotter (long jump, triple jump), John Heywood (pole vault), Randy Bryant (pole vault), Mickey Cutler (throws), and Sam Nichols (throws).

“This is his [Coach Moss’s] 18th year coaching track,” says Mentzer. “He spent 6 years coaching at Sparks High School and this will be his 13th year and 7th as Head Coach at Reed High School. He has coached high jump and still currently coaches the sprints and relays. Dale is certified as a level 1 and a level 2 coach for USA Track and Field. He is also an assistant football coach for the football program for the last 13years. John [Heywood] has coached the pole vault for 20 years, the past three years at Reed High School. This will be Randy’s [Bryant] first year coaching with Reed High School. He has been a private coach for more than 20 years. He coached numerous high school state champions and Jr. Olympic champions. In 2013 he coached both the boys’ and girls’ Nevada state champions in Division I.”

While Coach Moss was a sprinter in high school, both Coach Heywood and Coach

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Bryant were pole vaulters. Coach Heywood says, “I vaulted in the late 70’s for Reed High School, 13’6’ was my best.” And Coach Bryant tells us, “I vaulted 15’3¼” for Burrton High School (KS) in 1983. I was the 1982 KS state high school champion and Class 1A record holder.” As far as what the Raiders have to look forward to, here

is a competition breakdown from Mentzer: “For Regionals, the top 8 qualifiers get to compete to advance to the State Championships. From there the top 3 from our region qualify to compete at the State Championships whereas the Las Vegas Region gets to qualify 5 athletes. Las Vegas has two regions because of their population and the number of

schools they have there. From each region in Las Vegas the top 2 qualify to go to the State Championships and then the next best qualifying mark from the two regions.” We wish the best for this wonderful team, and hope competition brings much success to Edward C. Reed High School.

Troy Gingerich, Kara Day, Malcom Malizia, Wade Eiler, Sam Chalupa, Dallas Moss, Makayla Linebarger, Ben Stevens

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Paulo Benavides

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Competition Strategy By: Bubba Sparks

These general rules apply any time, but especially for younger vaulters early in the year. I know that everyone has his or her own approach and game plan, so please use this as food for thought. Unfortunately, I have learned every lesson on this list the hard way. Enjoy!

1. Practice like you compete and compete like you practice. This means don’t show up at a meet and suddenly change the script. I’m shocked at how often I see this and the results are rarely good.

2. Pack the day before the meet using a checklist of what you need so you can’t forget anything.

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3. Arrive to the stadium 90 minutes in advance of your scheduled start time. This gives you plenty of time to find where you are going, unload your stuff and get to the pit. 4. Measure and mark your steps as soon as you get to the pit. One less thing to do when it’s time to get on the runway.

5. Get on the runway one hour before your scheduled start time. There are fewer people on the runway and you’re not as stressed for time if everything isn’t going perfectly. Nothing is more stressful than to find your step is off and then be standing in line with 20+ other vaulters.

6. Start on pole with a grip that you are very comfortable with. Your day needs to start with good pole speed so you can focus on your technical goals of the day, instead of worrying about getting in. There is a time for bigger poles and higher grips but warm up is not that time. You’re not warming up for your PR; you’re warming up to clear your opening height.

7. Pull out your mechanical checklist. What are the top 5-7 things you MUST do right in order to have a successful day. You should have made this list no later than the night before the meet. I typically start building mine early in the week and then refine it as I get closer to the meet.


February 2014 issue

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Bubba Sparks

8. Stop your warm up after three good jumps. Too many vaulters wear themselves out and have little energy or focus left for the meet. Personally I only take two good vaults before shutting down. Remember you are warming up to clear your opening height. Save the rest for the meet. 9. Check in with the official and give your starting height. A great rule of thumb is to start three heights below what you’re

expecting to vault. Rarely are your first three jumps in practice your best, and if you start too high, you may be done before you can work out your vault for the day.

10. Find out who is jumping 3-4 slots before you so you can watch for them to be called. The single biggest mistake I see high school vaulters make is not knowing when they will be jumping, so they get on the runway cold and waste jumps.

11. Don’t get caught standing or sitting too long as you wait to jump. Either can cause your legs to feel flat. Get up and move around a bit, and while you sit do some light stretches. Socializing is fine but keep your head in the game while you wait to come in. Always know what height and round they are on. 12. Be sure you do some build up strides about 1015 minutes before your first jump. For example, if

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I’m coming in on the next height, and there are currently four vaulters jumping, I had better get moving around.

13. On your first jump, like all of your warm up jumps, refer to your mechanical checklist for what your focus is on that jump. Face it, at a meet our minds are racing and our thoughts are scattered. Just do the ONE thing on your list for that jump correctly and you will feel a calm come over you.

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14. Many people will give you advice. In fact, you will find that the better you get, the more others will try to coach you. Listen politely and then confer with your coach. The two of you know each other and speak the same language. After the meet if someone suggested something that made sense to you, discuss it with your coach. Maybe it is something you two can start to work on at the next practice, but probably not today.

15. Above all, have fun! These suggestions are meant to relieve some of the stress and anxiety of the competition. What is left over is adrenaline, and that is where big jumps come from. So clear your head of the noise and enjoy the process. In the pole vault, every single vaulter, coach and fan wants to see you do well. How many sports are like that? Gotta love it! May your wildest dreams come true! Bubba


February 2014 issue

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February 2014 Vaulter Magazine