Track and Field jumps into new season with pole vaulting program

Jack Parsons

It’s finally that time of the year when the track and field team gears up hopeful for another strong season of competing in the same events that they have excelled in in the past. However, the team has added something new to the itinerary. The 2018 track and field team will face a significant shift in the upcoming season, as pole vaulting has been re-added as a competing event.

Despite the fact that other schools in the district, including Tamalpais (Tam) and Drake, have had pole vaulting for several years, this will be the first year pole vaulting is incorporated back into Redwood’s track program since its termination in 2014. According to varsity track athlete junior Nicole Strub, who added pole vaulting as her fourth event, Redwood has not adopted pole vaulting earlier due to a lack of a coach.

With the pole in his hands, junior Joe Peck prepares to leap into the air

This season, however, Jim Kiles, an experienced pole vaulting coach from Tam, agreed to come to practice on Thursdays and Fridays to assist in developing Redwood’s pole vaulting program. Kiles has coached pole vaulting for over a decade and also trained his son, who now pole vaults for Princeton University in New Jersey.

“We were all really excited when we heard that pole vaulting was coming to Redwood because we wondered why we didn’t have it before. Also, we used pole vaulting as our slogan to come join the team,” Strub said.

So far, four girls and seven boys have chosen to participate in pole vaulting. Pole vaulting requires technique and upper body strength in addition to the sheer athleticism and cardiovascular fitness needed by other track events such as sprints, according to Kiles. Katie Baker, a senior who decided to try pole vaulting, affirmed that it is very demanding.

“The first day, we had a bunch of people go out and try for it, but they realized that it actually is pretty hard and takes a lot of skill. Every day, we have less and less people,” Baker said.

According to Kiles, most high school pole vaulters begin their jumping career in high school.

“You have to look for the right athlete, and we have some of those here. You first teach them to crawl, then walk, then run and all of a sudden they’re jumping high,” Kiles said.

Coach Jim Kiles giving pointers to new poler vaulters
Coach Jim Kiles giving pointers to new poler vaulters

Kiles explained that the most important element in being good at pole vaulting is running fast.

“To jump high, you need to be able to handle a big pole, and to be able to do that, you need to be fast. Being good at pole vaulting almost has a direct correlation to speed,” Kiles said.

Although this is the first year that the event was brought back to Redwood, there are a number of athletes on the track team that possess the necessary attributes and have lots of potential to bring strong competition.

“Redwood has a really strong program for getting people in shape. The first thing I noticed with the kids who came out to pole vault was they were really fit, and that’s a great start. I think we will do just fine” Kiles said.