It’s a turn of tides of sorts with a year that has had its ups and downs with Vaulter Club. But in the end, when league finals come around everything has to be on point. We try not to go to crazy or over prepare, but the league finals are the door to the postseason and a way to show the community the hard work and preparation that is put forth to win at the next level. Last year we had two athletes that were one step away from state. This year we will try to make it all the way. Baby steps from one year to the next.
Your next season starts the day after league finals. If you make it through to the next round, you start your postseason, tighten your belt and prepare for a big run towards state in California. If you don’t make it to the next round for whatever reason, you start right away to prep for next year. The prep can easily include rest and relaxation, video review, running mechanics, strength training or reflection. At least this is how we do things, and so far it seems to be working out just fine.
What a Southwestern League Finals it was for the local sport of high school pole vaulting. Many athletes hit a new PR for Coach Derek and his Vista Murrieta Team. Derek is currently on his third year coaching the team and fifth year coaching Vaulter Club. Last year, 2018, Derek and his girls varsity team took first place in Girls Varsity with Katrina Meier, a club kid since she was a freshman and third place with Tamara Bader a club kid since she was a freshman. In 2017, Coach Doug at Chaparral High School won the girls championship and set the league record with a 12’4 jump.
Fast forward to 2019 and many wondered where the ladies pole vault was headed with Kaitlyn Swenson, a Vaulter Club 8th grade record holder of 10 feet now jumping 12’6″ as a Junior. All three of the top girls (Silverlake, Swenson, and Bader) wanted the championship for their team. The results came down to Tamara Bader taking 3rd place and Kaitlyn Swenson taking second place. Nicole Silverlake, (Vaulter Club kid from her 8th grade through her Junior Year and parts of her senior year, cleared 12′ at CIF prelims in 2018) came through with a huge PR and jumps 12’4″ for the win and tied the league record. Derek and Doug could not have been happier for Nicole, Tamara and the rest of the kids. They never cease to make us proud as a coach.
On to the boy’s side of the vault, which is a crazy situation each year and can be very competitive just like all the rest of the events. The last time we had taken guys was 2016 when Coach Doug won it at Chaparral with Nick LaPierre jumping 15 feet — beating out Asa Martin at 14’6 also a Vaulter Club Kid. This year it was a slug fest between Great Oak High School and Vista Murrieta High School. Jack Wright a Sophmore that once held some serious 8th-grade marks for Vaulter Club, came in third place, and qualified for the next round and Kyle Yonker took second.
Kyle Gibbs, a kid without the poles that he needed to start with, jumped on his new Altius Poles that came in 2 weeks prior and just in time. The 15’6″ poles were just the ticket, but it looks like we will be investing in a lot more pole vaulting poles for next year. Since his Freshman year, we knew he had potential, and he has shown the fact over and over again. Last year he participated in Vaulter Club for the Junior Olympics and jumped 14 feet as a Sophomore. 14’9″ took the championship for the men’s Varsity side. That would be the third champion that Vista Murrieta would have under their belt. We knew he had won, but did not know we had one more to go to win all divisions.
Just before Kyle jumped, the boys Frosh-Soph Vista Murrieta vaulter Tristen Douglas was up on the runway. As a back story, Tristen has not jumped a year and should have been a freshman, but his birthday hit at that special time, so he is currently a Sophomore. Not even a full year under his belt pole vaulting with club and high school, Tristen has worked like a beast and watched everyone around him put up the number while he worked on his form and athleticism. What a great job this Tristen did to win the division for the high school. Could have been a win for many other athletes, but when it came down to the wire, Tristen jumped on a new Gill pole and went a foot over the bar to win the Frosh / Soph championship. 12’3″ is what it took to seal the deal for Vista Murrieta High School.
From what we know, no school has ever pulled off a Champion in all Four levels of League before in the Southwestern League, we asked the old timers and they had not witnessed it.
I would say that the meet was one of the hay days for the high school in the sport of pole vault. Winning all four events was quite the feat. Breaking the boy’s high school record, the girl’s high school record again, was a proud moment. Not to mention all of the distractions, attempts to shut us down and failed smears towards the club and their coaches.
In the end, we work very hard and expect a lot out of our club kids. Something missing in today’s youth and we try to bring it back throughout our practices. Some athletes hate to work and want to just have fun. When the sprinting comes around, they fly away like a duck heading south for the winter. In a way, we lost our way for a few months and a hallmark of what we do. Work hard, stay in shape, have great cardio and have some fun. Not as easy as I just stated in that sentence, but some times the situation dictates change.
We like to have fun, but we also like to give 100% for the kids, and the program. Some times we fall short, and sometimes we go above and beyond. Unlike many clubs, we take pride in words like discipline, loyalty, obedience, respect, to build not only a pole vaulter but a better student athlete and American citizen. We are very proud of the athletes that we have and what they stand for, it’s a rare site with the upcoming generations.
In the end, stick to your principles and what got you to where you are today. Stay firm and steadfast while some attempt to bring you down to their level. No matter how hard it may be, have discipline and strength to do what is right.
The following quote now hangs on our bin door; this is our new quote for the time being. It comes from Rick Suhr about Jenn Suhr via Vaulter Magazine after taking Olympic Gold.
“It was a lot of dedication, a lot of obedience, and a lot of hard work from a coach and an athlete. This 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.”
So, we will continue with the knowledge that we have gained over the last eight months. We will lift our heads up high and continue to train the best that we can and hit the goals that we have set. Our kids will lose from time to time and win as well, but in the end they will have character and a better understanding of the world around them. No matter what some may say, we and they know the values that we stand for. This is what we do!