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Vaulters reaching peak form as regional, state meets near

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5cb48db893d13Photo by Analyse Jester

Photo by Analyse Jester

With the track state championships less than a month away, Coach Jake Huddleston’s pole vaulters are fine tuning their craft to assure they peak at the right time.

“When I was here we did have a vault coach, but as far as knowledge of vault there were somethings he didn’t know,” said Huddleston, a 2010 Broken Arrow graduate, “So I took it as an opportunity to come back here with all the knowledge I got from college just so the vaulters here can have a better experience and better opportunity.”

His tutelage has paid dividends for all the BA vaulters in general and Brandon Hanoch in particular. Hanoch’s 16-foot vault earlier this season is school record. A record and mark that Huddleston – a 2010 graduate and state pole vault champion – never could reach. His state championship vault was 15-feet.

“When I was in high school I had to chase the record and I wasn’t able to get it unfortunately,” Huddleston said.

The record for Hanoch was aided by Huddleston’s coaching, but also by genetics.

“Pole vaulting just came naturally to me,” the senior said. “I'm the third generation to be a vaulter, so I just fell in line with my grandpa, my dad, and my brother. So, it’s like a family tradition.

“It was big feeling for me to beat the record especially being my senior year.”

Hanoch has Class 6A’s best vault this season, so he should be a favorite to bring home a gold medal at state. He finished fourth a season ago. Jack Jensen of Jenks is the only state placer to finish ahead of Hanoch. Both vaulters failed to clear 14’6’’, however Jensen placed third based on fewer misses.

It’s not as if Hanoch finds himself in solitude when it comes to vaulting, however. Crayton Shaw and Weston Hulse each have the potential to clear 14 feet. On the girls side, coaches believe Shelbi Day, a fourth place finisher at State last year, who is suffering from a leg injury, will be ready for the regional meet the first weekend in May. She and teammates Naomee Casey, Jaleesa Caldwell and Kyra Heald provide Huddleston with a deep, talented and young pole-vaulting group. Shaw, Casey and Caldwell are sophomores. Hulse and Heald are freshman

“With the vaulters, I try to look for people a little bit more courageous, who are a little bit more willing to step outside the box,” Huddleston said.

Huddleston also has instilled individual work ethic into his vaulters.

“I work out every day after practice to get my body in the best shape it can be for the season,” Casey said. “I don’t let bad meets get to me either. I just work harder on the things that I can be better at. Mostly I try to keep a positive mindset.”

It’s that type of attitude that could lead to new heights and perhaps even vault them onto the medal stand at the state meet the second weekend in May.