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CONTENTS FROM THE EDITOR

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THE LANCERS MAKE THEIR NAMESAKE PROUD

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WOLF PACK VAULTER BREAKS 16’

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COACH ELLIS KEEPS EIU MOVING UP

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AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY FOR JOSE SAN MIGUEL

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VAULTERS BROTHERHOOD – A PERSONAL CONVERSATION

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FROM THE EDITOR It’s heating up for the summer here at Vaulter Magazine. Whether you are out there having fun this summer or continuing to train hard, we have brought some enjoyable and encouraging stories to you this month.

Carlsbad High School, in Carlsbad, California, is setting an example of motivation and having courage to keep going no matter what. You’ll be rooting for this group once you read about their desire to stick with it in spite of their humble beginnings in the pole vault. Coach Dowling, Coach Girley, and Coach Martin care so much about their vaulters and it shows. We hope all athletes are fortunate enough to work with coaches like these guys. Another school that is moving up the ranks in the vault world is Eastern Illinois University. We are so happy to have featured them this month

because their program is blossoming and doing great things. It is amazing how much they have had to up their standards for incoming vaulters to their program. Coach Ellis shared his excitement with us and it’s infectious. We also caught up with Shane Atkinson- a high school junior from Great Oak High School in Temecula, California. This young man recently broke 16’ and he told us all about how he did it and what his training is like. His future is bright if he continues on his path, and we are so happy he shared with us. Please enjoy this summer issue while trying to stay cool. More summer fun is yet to come. Thank you again for reading- we appreciate your continued support.

Editor Doug Bouma editor@thevaultermag.com

Page Parker Curry. Photo by Head Coach Sean Zeitler

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The Lancers Make Their Namesake Proud By: Michelle Walthall

The coaches of the pole vault team at Carlsbad High School, located in Carlsbad, California, feel that a Lancer is a perfect mascot for a pole vaulter- and with good reason. The Carlsbad High Lancers are certainly doing a good job of living up to their name, in spite of any struggles that come their way. This team faces many obstacles, but never gives up. They keep charging ahead.

“Carlsbad High School has 3 coaches including myself,” says Coach Tim Dowling. “John Martin and Dedrick Girley are parent volunteer coaches. John Martin has coached for 14 years. He has two sons who vault: Shay Martin, a senior, and Trevor Mar-

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tin, a freshman. Dedrick Girley has coached for 4 years. He is the father of Destiny Girley,

Pole Vault Champion. Pole vault coaches in North County are hard to find. John and Dedrick share some of their Lancer time with vaulters from Oceanside High School, El Camino High School, and Orange Glen High School.”

the reigning, defending, undisputed Avocado West League

In addition to these great coaches, we learned that Carlsbad High School gets some much appreciated help in the pole vault. Coach Dowling says, “Over the years we have had Earl Bell [Essex], Chuck Rodgers [U of Colorado], Derek Scott [USC] and Tim Warner [current school record holder].” So even though they don’t have specific athletes to help all the time, they still benefit from these talented vaulters from time to time. The Lancers were even fortunate enough to do a commercial for


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Essex with Earl Bell and Bruce Caldwell [owner] on their campus.

Coach Dowling also adds: “I vaulted in high school for 4 years. I’ve coached for 17 years with 3 different schools, 12 of them with my current schoolCarlsbad. My highlight would be to have coached the all-time SD section boys’ record holder, Derek Scott, who vaulted 16’8” in 2005.”

Volunteers also help the coaches make the Lancer vaulters great. “We do have some volunteers to help run the meets: scorekeepers, guards, etc,” says Coach Dowling. Sponsors are another story though. Coach Dowling says they do not have any at the moment, and he adds: “With many track programs in the county, money is always an issue. So we do what we can with what we have.”

So, how does the Carlsbad High School vaulting program measure up to others? Coach Dowling and Coach Girley gave us their takes on the subject. Coach Dowling tells us, “I’d say we have one of the better programs in North County Coastal San Diego. The biggest difference when compared to say NC Inland would be they have a better selection of poles, tail winds, 2 runways/pits and depth of vaulter pool.” Coach

Left to Right: Destiny Girley, Helen Girod, Alexis Schneider, and Scott Snow

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Girley says, “Pole vaulting is the most expensive event in track and field. This sport is about having the right equipment for the right athlete. While Carlsbad High School may have been fortunate enough to have three coaches for one event and a willing and determined group of athletes, we haven’t been

coached up to exceptionalness. That can’t happen without the right equipment.”

We got some specifics on the Lancer vaulters from Coach Girley. He says, “This year we had 22 athletes try out and 14 athletes stuck it out. This year, our team was a bit under-

Coach John Martin and Alexis Schneider

so fortunate with the equipment. There is a reason Orange Lutheran has three vaulters over 15 feet. When you look at their equipment, you know why. Every now and then, we get a phenomenal athlete. But for the most part, we get average athletes that have to be

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manned due to the number of graduating seniors the previous year. Our varsity boys’ pole vault team was down to one athlete; Zach Seiler. Zach, a junior, has really stepped up his performance this year. He has been over 13 feet in practice; 2 feet 3 inches over his previous

PR of 10’9”. He has yet to duplicate his practice efforts in a meet. Therefore, his official PR is 12 feet. We were privileged to have an extraordinary student athlete join our boys’ pole vault team this year. In his first official year as a pole vaulter, Scott Snow, a Decathlete who placed 7th at the 2013 Arcadia Invitational Multis, vaulted to a personal best of 12’6” and is really close to clearing 13’. Our girls’ varsity pole vault team is headed by Destiny Girley. Destiny is a senior and this is her 4th year vaulting for Carlsbad High School. This year, she, like most girl vaulters in the county, is struggling a bit with regaining her form. Destiny is the reigning, defending, undisputed Avocado West League Pole Vault Champion. She holds the Avocado League meet record and the Willie Banks Invitational meet record. Her personal best of 10’6”(2012) is 6” away from tying Carlsbad High School’s girls’ pole vault record of 11 feet.” Overall Coach Dowling is proud of what his vaulters have overcome this season. He says, “I believe the excellent training our vaulters have received this year has resulted in NO major injuries [so far]. Also, a quirk in the schedule has us with only 2 home meets. So, we have done a lot of traveling this season.”


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And Coach Girley states proudly, “Between the varsity and the junior varsity team, we have had 15 to 20 PRs this season; with some kids doubling and tripling PRs on the same day.”

We heard some bragging about school records and a hopeful outlook on the future from Coach Dowling as well. According to him, “The school record for the boys is 15’4” by Tim Warner in 2002. Daniel Spencer at 14’9” is number 2. The girls record is a 3-way tie at 11’0” by Jenna Smith, Jessie Shankland [both 2000] and Brenna Moyer [2003].”

ed at 130 pounds or more and are too long to teach beginners proper technique. Ideally, we would like to have a selection of 10’ to 15’ poles that range from 20 pounds below our vaulters’ weights and progress Left to Right: Destiny Girley, Alexis Schneider, Helen Girod, and Scott Snow

upwards in 5 pound increments to 20 pounds over our vaulters’ weights.” “Our landing system is porta-pit,” Coach Girley continues. “We have had it for 4 years

“We have had some league champions over the years with boys and girls,” Coach Dowling continues. “1 boy was a 2-time State entrant and 1 girl a 1-time State entrant. We are still hoping for a national champion.”

As far as pole vault equipment goes, Carlsbad High School faces some challenges. However, they have been resourceful enough to make the best of it. Coach Girley tells us, “We have 44 poles in our arsenal. However, our range has progression gaps. Pole selection is a problem for us because most of our girl vaulters weigh less than 120 pounds and most of our poles are rat-

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now. It is still in good condition. However, our standards have been repaired several times this year alone. Thank God for Home Depot. Our pits are located in an area known as the flight deck. All the jumps (long jump, triple jump, and high jump) are located there as well. The flight deck is located in an area adjacent to the track. Being located away from the track is good for us because scheduling conflicts with other sports such as soccer and lacrosse have caused the running events to alter when and where they train.” “As I said before, our landing system is in good shape. However, it is not safe for vaulters jumping anything over 13 feet.

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The pits extend out only a few inches in front of the plant box and we vault into a massive head wind. Therefore, Coach Martin and I stand in front of the pits and spot the vaulters to make sure they land in the pits. I have caught several vaulters in the air and prevented them from falling in the plant box or to the mondo surface in front of the pits.”

One challenge the Lancer vaulters do not have to face is the weather. Coach Girley tells us, “With this being California, great weather and all, and our pits being located in an area where we can leave them out all year, we can practice during the summer, fall, and winter months.”

“We do some year-round training and conditioning,” says Coach Dowling of their training schedule. There are, however, some other events during the off-season we compete in. They would be the Pole Vault Summit [Reno], Friday Night Vault Series [SDSU], UCLA’s clinic and a local summer series at various sites in the area.” It’s amazing what the vaulters of Carlsbad High School have accomplished. Hopefully this busy team will keep pushing through and we will all see more good things from them. Good luck Lancers.


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Helen Girod

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Wolf Pack Vaulter Breaks 16’ By: Michelle Walthall

Shane Atkinson runs with the Wolf Pack of Great Oak High School in Temecula, California. He recently broke 16’ as a junior at 5’9” tall and weighing 170 pounds. We wanted to know details about this great accomplishment and were fortunate enough to get the scoop on how he was able to reach this height. We found out technical details as well as personal training and vaulting career details and were not disappointed. Atkinson tells us when he broke 16’ his hand hold was 14’6”. We also found out that his pole was a 15’ size with a 185 lb weight. The step for Atkinson’s 16’ vault was 7 step 97 feet.

“Coach Ryan Garcia taught me how to pole vault and has been my coach for the past three years,” Atkinson tells us when we asked about his coach and program. “He is a relaxed guy who only wants everyone to perform to the best of their abil-

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Shane Atkinson


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Kaitlyn Merrit

ity. The program is pretty much made up of a relaxed group, but we are competitive amongst each other. Coach Garcia has us work on technique everyday with lots of repetition.”

The program that Atkinson describes is typical of the area he is from, according to him. He is around some inspiring competition and amongst friends, as far as we can tell, which surely helps him perform to his full potential. He says, “The Southwestern League is pretty tough and has been gaining a lot of respect the last couple years. Last year’s state champ Peter Chapman was from our league and having someone like that in your league pushed me to work harder. The Inland Empire is really competitive as is most of Southern Section, but the great thing about pole vault in this area is that everyone is friends and you personally know the people from other schools.” If you need more proof that big height comes from Great Oak vaulters, here it is: At Great Oak, the highest male vaulter PR is 16’- recently reached by Atkinson. The highest female vaulter PR is 9’6”. What other proof do we need that this program is working? It is certainly not lonely on Atkinson’s Wolf Pack pole vault team either. And they make

sure to train well. “We have 34 vaulters,” he says. “Practices run about 2.5 hours. Half the vaulters are on the pits Mondays and Tuesdays while the other half will vault on Wednesdays and Thursdays. If they are not vaulting, they are working out on the field.” As good equipment is essential to getting those high jumps, we asked about the equipment available to the vaulters of Great Oak High School. According to Atkinson, the Wolf Pack vaulters have: slide boxes, a pulley system, ropes, training poles, low hurdles, sandpits, pull up bars, and rings. So it looks like even thought the number of vaulters causes them to rotate vaulting time, they are still well-equipped and set up nicely.

Pack gets just that. Atkinson says, “This year there isn’t any elite-level people, but we have some great coaches in this area. I have trained and vaulted for a week with 2012 State Champ Peter Chapman at Murrieta Valley within the last year.” Shane Atkinson

Help also comes from other areas for the Great Oak vaulters, which is very much appreciated. No athlete can get enough knowledge and training from other great athletes with experience, and the Wolf

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“We have a 5-week summer camp and a winter track club that starts in November,” says Atkinson of the Wolf Pack’s offseason vaulting activities. “We focus on the take off in winter track club. We work runs, plant, and short run before the New Year. We start working on our long run after the New Year and get ready to compete in the all-comer meets once or twice

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a month until the spring season starts.”

Desire and preparation are present in full force in Atkinson, so it is fair to say he is expected to do well in competition this year. He definitely has some big plans and high expectations for himself. He says, “I want to perform as best as I can during the CIF Prelims,

CIF Finals, and CIF Masters. If I get to the State Meet, I want to compete as best as I can, at least place, and, like everyone else, I want to win. I would also like to vault at Nationals this summer.” Seems as though this kid has no problem accomplishing what he sets his mind to. His competition should be preparing themselves as well.


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Shane Atkinson

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Coach Ellis Keeps EIU Moving Up By: Michelle Walthall

Jade Riebold

Eastern Illinois University, located in Charleston, Illinois, is moving up the ranks in pole vaulting. Their success is impressive considering we learned that until recently the Charleston area has not embraced pole vaulting as much as other places. The one and only EIU pole vault coach, Kyle Ellis, says, “Unlike some of the other schools you have done features on, we haven’t had a great tradition of pole vaulting until recently. I was the former men’s school record holder and now I coach for the same school. The women’s former school record holder, Mary Wood, is coaching at Gardner Webb and doing great things down there.”

“Each year it’s getting harder and harder to make the team,” brags Coach Ellis with pride. “As we get better as a vault program, more and more kids are looking to come here. Each year I have to raise the standard a bit. I remember my first year I offered a 10’6” girl a small scholarship and she turned me down. Now I couldn’t even take that same girl as a walk-on. It’s crazy. Right now to walk on I am looking at guys that jump 15’ plus and girls that go 11’ plus. It’s really hard to say that since I was only a 14’6” kid in high school and my second best girl vaulter, Abbie, was only a 9’ girl in high school. I’d really like to give a kid a shot if they are raw in ability and very passionate.”

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When asked who is on the pole vaulting staff, Coach Ellis tells us, “Just me! Unfortunately I haven’t really had any helpers. Next year one of my former athletes, Abbie Schmitz, will be helping me coach some of my vaulters.” At the moment Coach Ellis has no elite vaulters to help him out either, but he is confident he will in the near future. He tells us, “I think Jade and Mick have what it takes to vault pro/elite. So if I am still working with them after they graduate, I am sure I can get them to help me out at practice. I think they will both make it to the USA Championships this year.” The team rundown we got from Coach Ellis below will show you why he believes these two won’t be too long in joining the elite vaulters out there.

Coach Ellis has a background with EIU as an alumnus vaulter. He says, “I was a former pole vaulter at EIU; I used to hold the school record at 5.21 and the conference record at 5.18. I served a year as a volunteer pole vault coach before our jumps coach left to train for the Olympics as a long jumper. After that I stepped in as the jumps coach at EIU. This is my 5th year coaching at EIU.” Coach Ellis also adds: “I have coached 6 of the guys on our top 10 list and 6 of the girls.”

Mick Viken

“This year we had 4 guy pole vaulters and 5 girl vaulters,” says Coach Ellis. The list he gave us is as follows: Mick Viken (JR) PR- 5.45, Eric Gordan (FR) PR- 5.10, Dan Chalus (SO) PR- 4.90, Ethan Valesquez (FR) PR- 4.25, Jade Riebold (JR) PR- 4.45, Abbie Scmitz (SR) PR- 3.95, Annemarie Reid (FR) PR-3.80, Kirstie Wieber (FR) PR- 3.60, and Sadie Lovett (FR) PR- 3.50. We also got a rundown of the team leaders and stand-

outs. Coach Ellis tells us, “On the men’s side Mick Viken is our team leader; he is tough as nails and a great technical vaulter. He has really stepped up his work ethic in the last year and he is a great role model for my younger guys to see practice every day. On the ladies side our two elders, Abbie and Jade, are our team leaders. Jade is one of the best vaulters in the USA, college or pro. Jade’s one of the hardest working and most dedicated athletes I have ever met. Abbie is

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also a team leader because she helped the program get started. She went from 9’ to 12’4” in two years, and at one time held our school record and was a two-time conference champ. Without her and her hard work this team wouldn’t be where it is now. She also knows the ins and outs, so her and Jade provide great leadership for our younger lady vaulters.” Coach Ellis also adds: “Eric Gordon set our true freshman record this year with 16’9”, and Annemarie set our women’s freshman record with 12’5.5”.” Competition for the Panther vaulters was exciting this year, as usual. Coach Ellis tells us, “We are a division 1 school. So when we travel and compete we see a lot of big 10 schools, big East schools. We are always excited to compete against other schools with great vault programs like University of Illinois and Indiana. We are in the Ohio Valley Conference, and on the men’s squad it’s basically an inter-squad meet and another meet to use as a qualifier. We sweep the medals just about every year. On the lady’s side it is much more competitive; our biggest competition is Southeast Missouri. Basically to be in the top 8 this year you had to be jumping 12’. Of the top 9 girls 5 were from EIU and 4 from SEMO, but we also are competitive on the Nation-

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als scene. Mick and Jade both earned first team All-American status indoor this year with Jade finishing 2nd and Mick finishing 8th.”

The fact that this team doesn’t stop working also contributes to their increasing success. “We usually start the week after school starts- usually in September,” says Coach Ellis. “I send out workouts over the summer and I also try to give all my kids individual tasks or drills to work on over the summer. Usually we try to attack their weaknesses in the off-season. Our motto is if you’re not good at something, you need to work twice as hard at it!”

Of course being “all work and no play” is no fun, so the vaulters of EIU spend time having fun. In addition to training, and the summer workouts and drills Coach Ellis gives them, the team enjoys other sports for fun. Coach Ellis says, “We like to do other sports. Sometimes in the off-season we will play ultimate football, we will also have a round robin basketball tournament. We have also played volleyball, Frisbee golf, and some of my athletes who make it to Regionals; we will go play a round of golf to give our minds a rest from track for a day.” Investment in the youth in the Charleston area is another

way pole vaulting’s popularity has grown there and contributed to the upward movement of the heights of EIU’s vaulters. “I also run a club for local high school and junior high kids to come and learn the fundamentals of pole vaulting,” says Coach Ellis. “This is the first year doing it. Some of the parents help me at practice putting the bar or bungee up or catching steps for me. In my first year doing it there have been several school records broken this season.” The Panther vaulters have an amazing contact for equipment as well. We learned this from Coach Ellis: “Since Gill is right up the street (an hour from us) we use Gill poles: Carbon FX, Pacer FX, and Mystics. I have developed a good relationship with the folks at Gill and they are very consistent with the poles they build for us.” The pride Coach Ellis has in his team is inspiring and moving. He even left us with a few more interesting facts about his team and program because he has so many good things to say.

“I think an interesting thing is how our program has sprung up so quickly,” Coach Ellis says. “When I took over I had 1 girl vaulter, a 9’ walk-on named Abbie Schmitz. Our school record was 12’. Now our indoor school record is 14’7.5” and our out-


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Jade Riebold

door record is 14’3.5”. Jade, Abbie and Annemarie are ranked 1-3 on our school top 10 list. And all 5 girls on the team this year are on the school top 10 list, if that tells you how far our women’s program has come.”

Coach Ellis also adds: “I would say something unique we do is that we do a lot of straight pole vaulting and competitions. We do straight pole vaulting at least once a week, always from 2, 4, or 6 total steps (3 lefts). When we have our competitions we either jump for grip height or over a bar from 6 steps (3 lefts). Our record holder for the guys is Mick clearing 12’8”, and for grip height 13’2”. Girls for height: Abbie has gone 10’6”, and for grip height Annemarie at 11’9”.” “We do lots of fundamental drills,” Coach Ellis continues. “We at least do some sort of drill every single day. Jade’s

f i r s t year she was eager to learn, so we did twoa-days working on pole carry, pole drop, and planting mechanics.”

He also says, “In 2012 Mick and Jade both won at the Drake relays; I thought that was pretty cool.”

“Mick and Jade are both shorter vaulters; Mick is around 5’10”-5’11”, and Jade is 5’4”-5’5”,” Coach Ellis adds as another fun fact. “I am pretty sure Mick was the only guy at

Nationals on 15’6” poles and Jade was on a 13’6” pole when she cleared 14’7.5” (gripping 13’3”). Mick cleared his PR of 17’10.5”, so we pride ourselves on efficiency and our push-off capabilities.” Things continue to look up for Eastern Illinois University and Coach Ellis is optimistic as always. “Next year we have a really talented group of freshman and a couple of transfers coming in,” he says. “Next year we should be a force to be reckoned with.” So if your team will be competing with the EIU Panthers, look out.

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Bottom - Ethan velazquez , Dan JUNE 2013 ISSUE Chalus, Eric Gordon , mick Viken WWW.THEVAULTERMAG.COM Top - Kirstie weiber, jade riebold, Annemarie reid, Sadie lovett, Abbie Schmitz

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Yoo Kim

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Kylie Hutson

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An Incredible Journey for Jose San Miguel By: Michelle Walthall

“My name is Jose San Miguel and I pole vault at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina,” says yet another talented high school vaulter we were fortunate enough to catch up with. This young vaulter has been working as hard, if not harder, as any of the talent we have spoken with.

“There are a lot of issues I’m currently struggling with,” San Miguel continues. “I take off about 18 inches inside, no matter how much we move my step back. My left arm completely collapses at takeoff (I’ve gotten better at this recently). Driving is a huge issue for me because of this. I also struggle with moving up my grip and moving onto a larger pole. I used to go months without taking off, so I definitely had a run-through issue. When I began vaulting, I would slip my hands like crazy.

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My dad (who’s also my coach) eventually just duct taped my top hand to the pole so that I would be able to takeoff holding where I was supposed to. I was, and still am, really underdeveloped, so that’s also something that has, and is, holding me back.” Even with struggles and set-backs, San Miguel has kept working through and it has recently paid off in his PR height. He says, “My current PR is 14’6” and I cleared this a little over a week ago at my County Championships. Up until then though, I’d gone 10 months without a PR. I was getting so frustrated because I would have all of this height on bars, but I was so inconsistent with my jumps that I could never place the standards. But it finally clicked, thank God.” San Miguel is fortunate to have a great support system in

place, which surely has helped him stay motivated. “My dad has been the most influential figure with my pole vaulting development,” he tells us. “He pole vaulted at the University of Tennessee back in the day, and I would be nowhere near where I am today without his help. He’s given me insight, information, and assistance whenever I need it. He’s the one that got my invert and swing as good as they are. My dad’s the one that taught me how to make my jump work, even with all of the things wrong with it. Along with my dad, Jim Bemiller and Tim Mack, my dad’s old coach and teammate at UT, have helped with some technical things or when we just can’t figure out why something’s happening. My Mom, a life coach, has also helped me conquer all my mental demons that held me back for so long.”


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WWW.THEVAULTERMAG.COM Jose San Miguel Photo by Jon Fleming

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“Technically he is the coach of the Pole Vault Carolina Vault Club, but we train at my high school,” San Miguel continues of his father and where they train. We had to include San Miguel’s detailed story that he was kind enough to share with us as many young vaulters will, without a doubt, relate to it. Here is his detailed account of his young vaulting career: “My story... I have tried probably every sport imaginable and failed at most of them. Soccer, I sucked. Swimming, I was scared (and still am) of the water. Tennis, I hated. I was good at XC but hated running. The only sport I was good at and liked was gymnastics. I did it for two years right before middle school, but when the coach wanted me to compete and showed me the unitard uniform I said, ‘hell no’ and quit the next day- ha ha. If you asked anyone (parent/teacher/ student) in my 8th grade class who would be a successful high school athlete and go on to be a DI collegiate-athlete, I would’ve been one of the last, if not the last, person picked. I started pole vaulting my freshman year with my dad as my coach. I was stubborn and resilient. I refused to do the drills because I didn’t see the value in doing anything that wasn’t a

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full jump. I refused to move my step back because I just wanted to keep my jump the same - this is still plaguing me today. I jumped 9’10” as a freshman. My sophomore year I ended up jumping 12’. I still hated drills. I did not know how to swing, I cleared bars backwards doing that awkward back-bend thing, and my takeoff was more of a head-butt against the pole because my arms were 100% collapsed. I was slow because I refused to run, I was weak because I refused to go to the gym, and I started getting scared of big poles. Junior year was the transition year for me. My best friend, Sydney White, who was a US #1 at the time and now vaults at Wake Forest University, competed at New Balance Nationals over the summer. I went to watch and the thing that caught my attention was the backpacks. I then found out that in order to get the backpacks you had to qualify for the meet, which at the time was 14’. So I decided to work really hard to get a backpack – I could’ve cared less if I was any good. I started moving to 14’ poles. I ‘bought into the program,’ as my dad would say. I started doing drills to get my swing and invert down. I did plant drills and sliding box drills to work my run and takeoff. I started going to an athletic performance center called Athletic

Lab, headed by Mike Young, who is one of the most respected strength and conditioning coaches in the world. I was relentless in getting better.”

“And then I started getting mental. I got scared of the box. I got scared of the poles. I got scared of pole vaulting in general. Run-throughs used to happen about 3 times a practice. In mid-January, when this run-through phase began, if I left the ground maybe twice a practice it was an awesome day. That went on until March 1st. We started counting my runthroughs...972 run-throughs over the course of those 45 days or so...that’s ridiculous. But something clicked, and all of a sudden I started leaving the ground again, started moving my grip up, started being able to take off from a run longer than my stiff-pole approach. I was jumping 13’ before the runthrough episode, and I had one week to qualify for NBN. After those first few practices of being able to leave the ground again, I was taking attempts at a 14’ bungee, the national qualifying mark. I competed every day from then on until the last day of the qualifying period. It took until the very last day, 30 minutes before the qualifying period ended, for me to qualify. But I did it! The kid who couldn’t leave the ground two weeks ago

somehow put up a 12’ PR and was on his way to New York City for Nationals. I only cleared the opening height there, but still, I was at Nationals.” “I ended my season clearing 14’3” and competing at NBN at my stomping ground, the NC A&T University track. That summer, I also found myself on board a plane to El Salvador, with my poles in the cargo area of the plane. I was competing for Puerto Rico in the Central American and Caribbean Athletics Championships. It was the experience of a lifetime. I had worked so hard to get to where I was, and to be able to wear Puerto Rico across my chest was great validation of all my hard work.”

“This year, I’ve worked through some injuries, the same run-through drama of last year, and a rough indoor season. I had a ton of height over all of my bars, but just couldn’t place the standards because I was so inconsistent. I was in my hotel room the night before USATF Youth Indoor Championships and I was in tears because my season had sucked and I was seriously considering quitting. I told my dad that he needs to cherish whatever happens tomorrow, the day of the meet, because it could very well be my last meet.

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Well, I pulled myself together and jumped 14’2” there and was through-the-roof excited. On the car ride home I seriously just laughed that I had even considered quitting because of a bad season. From only clearing 14’ once my indoor season, I’ve gotten over it 7 times since then, and have bumped my PR to 14’6” officially. So, yeah- I get frustrated. I get emotional and I run-through, a lot. I am scared of bigger poles. I am scared of gripping big. I mean, I am just now moving to 14’7”s and gripping higher than 13’, whereas everyone else in the state jumping at my level is on 15’-16’ poles and

gripping 14’6”+. I’ve worked to hold my own at whatever stage I’m at, whether it is on my game on a big pole gripping 13’6” or feeling crappy and jumping on a small pole. I worked hard to get my swing, invert, and top to a place superior to that of most of the kids I’ve competed against, and that’s compensated for my jumping on small poles and gripping low. I’m not a superstar athlete by any means - I’m 5’9” 142 lbs, can’t bench 100 lbs, run 12.5 in the 100 meters, I’m not jacked by any stretch of the imagination. I have an awful takeoff and run, I grip low on small poles. Yet I didn’t let that stop me. I worked with Mark Hollis what I had, worked my invert and top as much as I could, and I got to the place I am today despite my being underdeveloped and having a poor takeoff. I have so far to go, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come. The kid no one would’ve picked to be a successful athlete is on his way to playing in college.” Directly to young vaulters, San Miguel says, “Stay Posi-

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tive. I cannot even tell you how much a positive, open mindset dictates how your practices, vaults, life goes. Do The Drills To Receive The Results. You can’t build a machine without first working with the parts. In the same way, you can’t build a successful vault without working with the parts. The drills suck, I hear you. I fought them for two years and I’ve paid the price for that. Do the drills, they help, I promise. Do Not Stop. It gets hard, I hear that. It gets frustrating, trust me I know that. Don’t stop. It will always get better if you honestly apply yourself and continue to persevere.”

With such determination, this young athlete has a good shot at reaching his goals for the future. His goals are this: “I want to jump 5 meters before I get to college. I know, I’m only at 14’6” right now yadayadayada. I know I can do it, and if I end up failing I will come damn close to doing it. Next year, I want to represent Puerto Rico at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon. In college, I want to get to NCAAs my sophomore year, and receive All-American honors somewhere along that journey.” He knows he can do it, and we all hope to see him achieve his dreams.


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Caitlin Wilhardt

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CIF 2013 D4 Boys

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Vaulters Brotherhood – A Personal Conversation By: Buba Sparks A few years back I dubbed Wolfgang “Wolfie” Ritte of Germany to be the “Masters Bubka”. How remarkable is he? His next WR will be his 35th to tie Sergey Bubka. This week he did the unthinkable, except to me. He set three WRs in one meet including an astounding 4.32m/14’ 2 ½”. Wolfie is 60. Only one man has ever vaulted 13’/3.96m, John Altendorf. I hope to be 3rd when I turn 60 in four weeks s I have a 3.99m/13’ 1” outdoors already this year. So when I saw that Wolfie had cleared 4.10m for a new WR a few weeks back I sent him and email of congratulations and begged him to open his eyes to how special he was. I told him I fully expected that today he could jump 4.30m/14 1 ¼”. Think about it; only one other person 60+ has EVER made 13’ and he just blows right by that and gets 14’. So here is our email exchange. Enjoy! Bubba

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Hi Bubba,

You mailed me: I’m sure you have many more to come! I was not sure, but you were right. You gave me self belief. Thank you. I could improve the worldrecord three times. *4.12 m, I cleared with a 430 pole, 13.4 Flex, grip: 4.20 m, Take-Off: 3,25 m Then advised me several coaches to take a new, stiffer pole. I needed two failed attempts to get used to the new pole.

*4.22m xxo, I cleared with a 430 pole, 12,8 Flex, grip: 4.25 m, Take-Off: 3,35 m

I had very, very good conditions while jumping over 4.32m, constant tail wind, sun and 24 degree *4.32m o, I cleared with a 430 pole, 12,8 Flex, grip: 4.27 m, Take-Off: 3,45 m

My wife and I do not go to Brazil because my wife as a teacher cannot get a break. But we are looking forward to see you in Turin. I wish you every success for the season. Stay healthy and vault high. Wolfgang Sorry for my english

MAGNIFICENT!! I will go imperial measurements on you. Before you John Altendorf was the first and only M60 to clear 13’-3.96m. I predicted last summer that you would not only be the 2nd to vault 13’, but that I fully expected you to exceed 14’ or 4.27m and that when that happens we will have the first truly unbeatable record. At 4.32m you have done it.

My advice is to remain healthy and keep trying to extend the records. When Petrov was asked at Reno in1994 what Sergey could vault, his answer was “for


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Bubba Sparks Reno Summit 2013

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sport or money”. He said that in practice he would make 21’or 6.40 on a fairly regular basis. But since he was paid for each record he only improved it 1cm at a time. Can you imagine the WR at 6.40m.

You have the opportunity to set records that won’t be matched in 100 years. In fact, you may have just done it. I know who is coming up behind us and they are not Sergey or you. My advice my dear friend

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is to put that record out of site. Aspire to and get 4.50m or 4.60m. Next is be very sure that you get a 4.30m indoors so you add another layer that can’t be beat – an indoor and an outdoor 4.30m.

In closing, last summer I said that you would not only be the 2nd to get to 4m indoors and out but that you would run past it and get 4.30m in both and that would be the equivalent of Bob Beamon’s

1968 Olympic long jump. And you have done just that.

By my count you now have 34 world records to Sergey’s 35. People have been close in height to Sergey but no one will ever reach where you are. So keep pushing it out there. Sergey could make 6.40m but the record says 6.15m. Put it out of site brother! So happy for you and proud of you. Can’t wait to jump with you in Italy! Bubba


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Wolfgang “Wolfie” Ritte

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CIF Girls, Garce Boyer, Diana Fuji, Jenna Frum, Julie Johnson

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Kaitlyn Merrit

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June 2013 Vaulter Magazine