Friday, June 22, 2012

Mission: Accomplished

      It is with great pleasure and relief that I write this post. I am going to vault in the U.S. Olympic Trials next week on Monday. This is the opportunity of a lifetime where I will compete with some of the Nation's greatest athletes for a spot on the #1 track team in the world! I enter this competition with a feeling of confidence because I have already overcome the largest obstacle, getting into the Trials. I am within 8" of second place going into the meet, meaning a place on the team is wide open and anything can happen!
     It is fun to think back on how my track career got started. I attended elementary school in a town of 2,000 people called Lovelock, NV and every year we ended school with a "Fun Day". It was a low key track meet with events like the softball throw instead of discus or javelin. My twin brother, Jacob, and I always came home with several first and second place ribbons even though we had no formal training in track. We just grew up playing outside all day, so running and jumping came to us naturally.
    Fast forward 16 years and I am still just a big kid competing for ribbons. The only differences are the marks have improved and the audience has gotten a little bigger. I still enjoy running as fast as I can and flying through the air like a wild man! I still get to run around in shorts and a tank top in the summer sun hanging out with friends, who also run track. My Mom still asks me to wear a helmet when I go out to play, because she knows I don't show much respect for gravity (or hard surfaces). And when I compete on Monday in the prelim I will remember that's what it's all about and I will live in that moment, rather than worry about what is next.
     As usual I will keep this short and finish with saying thank you to all of the people who have helped me reach my dream of vaulting 18' and competing at the Olympic Trials. My family who raised and supported me from the beginning. My friends who trained with and encouraged me. Coaches who shared their knowledge and experiences with me. UCS who supplies me with poles to vault on. Fans who get me fired up and support the sport itself. And of course God, who makes everything possible and gives us purpose in life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


     Over the last couple weeks I traveled down to southern California to compete at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). I spent about 12 days down there because I knew I would get to vault in great weather with high caliber athletes, a combination that would produce good results. My first meet on a Thursday at the OTC was good but not great. I made my opening bar of 17'7", but then failed to put up good jumps at 18'1.25". I decided to drive up to Mt. SAC in L.A. on Saturday to try again, but it was too soon after my previous meet and I was too fatigued to jump well. I ended that meet with a no height (NH). I decided to skip the next meet at Mt. SAC on Tuesday because I wanted to be more recovered for the next OTC meet.
     Later that week on Thursday my patience paid off as I was able to compete with more energy and less pain than the last competition. I opened at 17'7" again and then moved to 5.52m or 18'1.25". I kept taking off too far under throughout the competition, somewhere between 11'11" and 12'4". I was gripping at 16'2" so my takeoff should have been around 13'6", but I just couldn't get my feet down fast enough and my back was taking a beating because of it. Despite the poor takeoff spot I managed to use the biggest pole of my career thus far, a 5m 13.1 UCS Spirit and it felt great. I cleared 18'1.25" on my second attempt which provisionally qualified me for the Olympic Trials. As soon as I let go of the pole I knew I was going to make it and roared in celebration! It felt so exhilarating and relieving to clear that barrier of 18'. Jumping 18' was my career goal, the only thing I felt I needed to do in order to retire from the sport with no regrets, and I did it! As I walked off the pit I silently thanked the Lord for such an opportunity and high-fived my friends. I then had the bar raised to 5.62m or 18'5.25" but was unable to clear it. I kept hitting the gas too early and by the time I planted the pole I was out of steam and got stood up. I decided to do the next meet at Mt. SAC for fun, but NH'd again. This time however I opened at 18'1.25" and ended up blowing through the biggest poles in my bag, so I wasn't phased by the lack of a clearance.
     Now I am back in Seattle and playing the recovery game where I don't vault or do any high intensity workouts for a little while. My next meet is the Donovan Bailey Invitational in Edmonton, Canada. It will be my last competition before the Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR and will serve as a tune-up meet. I hope my mark holds up and gets me into the trials since they only take 24 athletes and I am tied for 19th. If I do make it into the Olympic Trials I will give U.S. track fans something to cheer for!