There are several techniques and processes vital to clearing the bar in the pole vault, which is one of the most technical events in track and field.
But Zack Supple, the top pole vaulter in Northern Nevada this season, has his own method.
“You’ve got to be a little bit crazy to do the pole vault,” the McQueen senior said.
Supple cleared 15 feet, 7 inches to win the Division I North region meet last week. He has his sights set on 16 feet, a significant height in high school pole vaulting. Reno High’s Cameron Kroll cleared 17 feet in 2007 to set the state record.
Supple is planning to set aside any craziness, at least temporarily, for this weekend’s meet in Las Vegas, his first time competing at state.
“I’m capable of doing it. It’s all technique. If it all comes together at the right time,” Supple said of clearing 16 feet. “It’s body awareness, being able to control your body to move different ways.”
Supple has an extensive background in gymnastics, which lends itself to being a good pole vaulter. His teammate, Natasha Black, also is a former gymnast who will be making her third trip to state.
She cleared 10-9 last week and holds the McQueen school record of 11-9. She continues to fight stress fractures in her right foot, which cost her four weeks this season.
“I just do whatever I can. I’m working with what I have. I try to run as little as possible,” Black said. “It hurts a lot. I have to work past that.”
Black finished third last week and has been third at state the previous two years.
“I don’t want to be third again. My goal is at least second,” she said.
She said speed is a critical component of pole vaulting, but the mental aspect is the most important.
“It’s almost more mental than physical. I feel track, in general, is more mental than physical. At big meets, you don’t want to compare yourself to the other competitors, you have to compete against yourself,” Black said. “That’s what I’ve learned, in four years, is the most important thing. If you pay attention to other people, you’re going to forget what you’re there to do.”
The large-school girls record is 12-7, set by Reed’s Ashley Feinberg in 1997.
Shane Wallace helps coach the pole vaulters at McQueen. His daughter, Janai Wallace, set the previous McQueen record of 11-6 in 2000.
“If Natasha hadn’t gotten hurt, I thought she could do at least 12-6 this year,” Wallace said.
Wallace said Supple cleared 16 feet earlier this year, but hit the bar on the way down.
“It takes a lot of guts falling from 16 feet up in the air onto just a foam pad,” Supple said. “It’s just, get over the bar when you’re up there.”
The boys pole vault is tonight and the girls compete Saturday morning.