At right, Harrison in the 2013 NBNO pole vault. Photo by Jeff George, nc.milesplit.com
Weekend before last (2/22), I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky for another meet: The U. of Kentucky High School Invitational. Overall, it was a solid meet. I didn’t have any PRs, but I’m still trying to shake the rust off from the offseason. I was supposed to compete in the 60 hurdles, high jump, pole vault, and 4x4. But the pole vault ended up lasting nearly the entire meet, so I couldn’t do the 4x4. The high jump went really well, although I only jumped 6-4. On my last attempt at 6-6, I cleared it easily, but scraped the bar with my calves and it fell. I didn’t get the result I wanted, but due to my not being able to practice much during the offseason, I’m still trying to get my form back to the way it was last year.
I ran 8.30 in the hurdles, only .02 off of my PR of 8.28. I got a really good start, and ended up too close to the first hurdle – so I ended up getting really high over the barrier. That sort of threw me off for the whole race. I think if I hadn’t screwed up the first hurdle, I could have run around 8.20.
Next was the pole vault. Unfortunately, instead of only accepting 16 vaulters for the guys and girls competition, the meet directors decided to accept 29 vaulters each for some reason. That’s 58 total vaulters. Now the only bad thing about the pole vault is that it usually lasts a long time. Having 58 vaulters certainly did not help. The girls’ event started at the beginning of the meet at 10:00, and the boys’ event finished at about 7:30 – more than an hour after the every other event concluded.
The 4x4 is typically towards the end of the meet, but I hadn’t even come in yet in the pole vault by the time they ran the 4x4. I came in at 15-0, and made it easily to 16-0, where I had to take three attempts to clear it. I was mainly concerned with getting on some of my bigger poles in preparation for New Balance Nationals Indoor, so I wasn’t worried about how high I was going to finish. My three attempts at 16-6 weren’t that great, but the guys’ pole vault had been going on for about four hours, so I was starting to feel fatigued. I only cleared 16-0 (note: 2nd to Deakin Volz), but I was able to start on one of my bigger poles and move up poles very fast. Hopefully by the time I go to New Balance, I’ll be able to get on my 5-meter poles.
Since I’ve decided to compete in the pole vault at NBNI instead of the pentathlon, my training leading up to New Balance has been only slightly different from last year. Since I only have to worry about pole vault, I’ve been doing a little less running and focusing more on strength training and getting as many vaulting sessions as I can. Unfortunately, my coach is gone for a few days every week, so I can usually only get one vault session with him. So I’m going to start working on small pole inversion-type drills while he’s out of town. I can’t use any of my bigger poles without him there, because vaulting without a coach can be very dangerous unless it’s with a small pole from a very short run.
I’m still keeping up with my other field events, usually high jumping and long jumping once a week and trying to throw as much as I can. For my pole vault training, I’ve been focusing a lot on my weakest area: the inversion. My inversion isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely not the inversion of a 16-8 vaulter. Luckily, I’m fast due to my decathlon training and I’m tall, so I have a high plant position. These two aspects make it very easy for me to be able to use really long poles.
In my early years of pole vaulting, my coach and I focused on my plant more than my inversion. Although this means I have a bad inversion, I don’t have the same mental block that a lot of vaulters have when they try and move to bigger poles. All I have left to do between now and NBNI is to correct my inversion and I should be able to get a lot more push off of the top of the pole and hopefully get a new PR!