Friday, February 24, 2012

New Website Up And Running!

Hey guys, this is the final post on this blog. We've had a good run on here but it's time to step it up! Because I now have a full website with a blog as one of the pages. Check it out and please continue to follow and support me on my path to success as a professional pole vaulter. See ya on the new site!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

5.50m/18'0.5" a day before deadline! PowerBar and New Site Coming Soon!!

I finally hurdled that 18 foot barrier that had been avoiding me all indoor season so far. It's been a big year for me so far in practice, nutritionally, physically, and mentally, but I just haven't gotten the results I've wanted yet. You better believe I'm still not even close to being satisfied with 5.50m, but it's a barrier nonetheless. 5.50m is the qualifying mark for the Indoor US Championships NEXT WEEKEND. I already booked my flight, hotel, and planned a flight straight from Albuquerque out to LA on the Tuesday after USA's to leave for Japan that same day. I finally got on my 5m 13.7 pole again and it proved to be a money pole once again! Before this weekend, my season best was 5.41m/17'9"... sub-par for a professional pole vaulter. Being consistently over 5.60m with a few meets over 5.70m and 5.80m over the next year, then higher from then on. Now that you know where my head's at, we'll find out where my results will be throughout the year. On Friday I jumped in the Missouri Collegiate Challenge with 12 other guys and opened up at 5.30m/17'4.5". I cleared it on my second attempt and 3 of us who cleared that decided to move up to 5.42m because we thought that would be the bar that would qualify us for USA's since there aren't many guys over 5.50m/18'0.5" (the automatic qualifying mark). None of us made 5.42m... I never even got a shot at 5.50m, which was my ultimate goal for this weekend. I had entered myself in both competitions at Missouri, the college meet on Friday and the High School/Open Meet on Saturday, held at the same track just in case I needed to jump in both. Well unfortunately I needed that second meet to attempt a higher qualifying mark. I already mentioned that my season best this indoor season was 5.41m... Well I decided to start the competition at 5.50m/18'0.5". I'm not sure how often other people start one of their most crucial competitions at a height I haven't even jumped yet this year. By gosh it was just what I needed! The girls competition started at 8:30am and lasted until 12:45pm. The boys comp started at 2:00pm and 6 hours later, I cleared 5.50m on my second attempt! It was a new record long competition that lasted 6.5 hours total. I proudly took up the last half hour! After I cleared 5.50m (by scraping it pretty good, ha) I moved up to 5.72m/18'9.25" (Olympic and World Championships Qualifying Standard, which I have to clear if I want to make it to those meets). I haven't seen the videos yet, but I had 2 good attempts at it which was what I really wanted. I need more attempts at higher bars like that which was part of the reason why I skipped all the way up to it. The other reason was because I jumped the day before and my legs were fried! To conclude this session, I have officially qualified for the US Indoor Championships next Sunday and I plan on competing for a spot on the podium! I will then fly from Albuquerque to LA, on to Japan, compete at the Nishida Cup in Toyota City on March 3rd, then come back to the States on the 4th!
On another note, I just accepted a sponsorship from PowerBar to be on their Team Elite! So I want to thank PowerBar for the awesome opportunity and I hope to make you a proud sponsor!! So everybody go buy something from RIGHT NOW!
Last thing, I promise... Nevho Designs is currently building me a new website and I will be launching it by the end of this week if I can get stuff done on my end in time!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Leap forward, big step backward.

Everytime I make a breakthrough in my vaulting, something else goes wrong. I've been trying so hard to be taller coming into my take-off and driving my chest forward in an attempt to get on longer, stiffer poles. Well apparently those aren't the best key words for me. Last weekend I competed in The New Balance Collegiate Invitational at The Armory in New York City. I felt fantastic during warmups and was determined to have a good day. I even took 2 attempts on my 5.10m - 14.0 flex pole in warmups but couldn't quite penetrate enough on it either time. But it was the biggest pole I'd ever planted outside of the meet itself. I ended up starting the meet at 5.30m/17' 4.5"on a 5m - 14.1, still the biggest pole I've ever started on but scraped the bar on the way down. I managed to clear it on my 3rd attempt, finally. I scraped the bar off on the backside all of my next 3 attempts at 5.40m/17'8.5" and was out of the meet. Nobody ended up clearing 5.40m but I don't care about that because IT WAS A COLLEGIATE MEET! I was embarrassed to say the least that I got 4th place in a college meet. The most frustrating part was feeling great at take-off every jump and still coming up short each time. I talked with my coach after the meet and we watched some film. We determined that it was my lack of "rowing" throughout the middle part of my jump that doesn't allow the pole to roll over into the pit like it should. The goal is to take-off tall and fast, while pushing the hands up in order to get the pole to bend correctly and create the elastic energy you need to perform a good vault. After you stretch through the take-off, you have to push your arms forward all the way to your hips while also swinging your legs in order to get upside down. Obviously it's not something easy to explain, especially in words on the world wide web, but this is at least my simplified version of vaulting. Once you do those essential steps, vaulting is easy. I just can't seem to do those few things in the same jump. I was taking off much better this meet, but then wasn't using my arms during the middle of the vault, which rolls the pole over into the pit if you do it in the right order. This created a loss of energy in the middle of my jump causing me to be thrown straight up in the air to fall straight back down on the backside of the bar. I made a short video of my last attempt at 5.40m where I slowed down the video so you can see the portion of my jump where I was not using my arms at all.

Yes, it's hard to see in the video but the bar does bounce off because my right nipple hit it. My mission this weekend is to improve on both aspects and jump like I was born to jump. I'm tellin you... if I can figure out how to do both of these things in the same jump on a big pole, it's going to blow your mind. I'm going to clear some big bars this year and I'm thinking they are going to come sooner rather than later. Oh and one last thing... I was just invited to represent the U.S. at a meet in Toyota City, Japan on March 3rd. Dreams are coming true after all!! Keep believing in me and we'll go far together! Thanks for reading my friend, My next competition is at the Tyson Invitational at The University of Arkansas. I'm actually on the KU Team bus right now on my way. I'll let you know how it goes! It also might be televised so I'll be sure to update you with details if it is. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

5.37m at the Pole Vault Summit...

Height: 5.37m or 17' 7.25"
Approach: 18 steps
Pole: 5m - 14.5
Place: 3rd

Boy did I get dominated by Brad Walker... haha. That was such a fun competition last night though! Nine of the country's best vaulters competing in front of 1500 pole vault fanatics... you just can't beat that. The energy in the arena was unreal and it got LOUD. My jumping didn't amount to the hype I tried to create on my last post, but man am I close to doing some big things! I opened up at 5.22m/17'1.5" and blew over it on the first attempt. Then I cleared 5.37m/17'7.25" on my first attempt but almost brushed it on the way down. Luckily I didn't touch it very hard and it stayed up, because the height was definitely there. Then the bar goes to 5.52m/18'1.25" and I started doing things a little too good... I started running faster than I ever have. They had "timing gates" that measured our velocity at the last 10 meters from take-off on every jump. I'm not sure how accurate they are so I'll refrain from telling you the speed they recorded until I get a further in-depth analysis from our biomechanist later today. But I was smokin! My legs can vouch for that fact today as they are extremely tired and sore. So I missed all three of my attempts at 5.52m and that was that. I ended up with 3rd place again this year and not nearly as high as I wanted, but that's all a part of the game. My time will come and I must be patient with the bars and urgent with my training and skill. Brad had an amazing night last night from my perspective. He cleared 5.80m/19'0.25" by a foot but didn't quite get 5.91m/19'4.75". He knows he could've had that bar with any of his other jumps but it just didn't happen last night. He's looking really good and I couldn't be more excited to get to jump with him and have him bring me up to his level. It is amazing for American pole vaulting what he did last night. To open up the season in January with 5.80m is impressive to say the least, but its a big year for everyone this year with the Olympics coming up and him jumping so well is only going to bring the rest of us up with him! I'm so stoked for the future of American vaulting and my own career as well. I have big goals for this season and I hope you all get to watch me accomplish them ;) Onward and Upward!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life At The UCS Spirit Reno Pole Vault Summit

This is only my 3rd time (2nd as an elite) at the UCS Spirit Reno Pole Vault Summit, and i just can't see how it can get better, but it does every year!! If you love the pole vault and you've never been out here, get your butt in gear and plan on it for next year because it is truly a unique experience. Last year when I arrived, hardly any kids and high schoolers knew who I was. Only some of the major fans of the sport and the local midwest kids. And then after the competition where I got 3rd place at 5.50m/18' 0.5" with a sweet hair design and a green mohawk, everyone wanted my autograph and suddenly I realized that I belonged in this sport as a professional. This year when I arrived... people knew who I was. That was the coolest feeling in the world. I was even signing autographs and talking to groups of kids and fans at the airport on the way out here! This event is the single most inspiring and motivational event in the world for an emerging elite athlete, someone who can vault higher than most collegiate vaulters, yet not quite competitive enough to keep up with the best in the world at most competitions. Being around all of these younger vaulters who look up to us and want autographs is inspiring in itself, and then to also be around world champions, olympic champions, world record holders, and everyone in between is just plain sobering. The whole weekend the discussion among the elites is to raise expectations and stop shooting for 5.72m or 5.80... We need to be shooting for 5.90m and 6.00m and higher. Just getting 5.72 and qualifying for the Olympics isn't going to get us a medal or even in the top 8 most likely. The trend has been that the Olympic Champion usually has to clear a new Olympic Record to win. I'm all for raising expectations and I don't think I've ever had a problem with mine being too low, as my goals are constantly to be the best vaulter in the world. Of course I want 5.72m, but as Brad Walker put it, it should just be a stepping stone in the journey to be the best. And that's where my head's at. I'm physically able to be the best pole vaulter in the world right now, at this very moment. There is nothing I NEED to do differently, training wise. I just need to vault higher, because that's the bottom line. Grow a pair, get on bigger poles, run faster, plant higher, and clear the freakin monster bars like I was made to do. I plan on starting that strategy tonight and I'm more than excited to jump with all of these elite guys tonight in front of the best pole vault fans in the world. And just because I admire the guy and hope that I can compete on his level soon, I'll say one last thing....... Bring it on Brad Walker. I don't know about the other guys, but I want to go head-to-head. Let's dance!