Riverton pole vaulter sets state record
May 20, 2019 01:11PM
● By Greg James
Riverton pole vaulter Summer Steeneck clears the begining height at the Riverton Invitational earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of dsandersonpics.com)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The state pole vault record has been broken.
Riverton’s Robbie Walker stepped back and cleared 16 feet 3 inches to break a state record that has stood since 1995, culminating of his hard work and the help of specific trainers.
“Robbie has trained with us for several years,” Utah Pole Vault Academy director and Bingham High assistant track coach Kody Pierce said. “He is a good athlete. We say he has great hops. He is a hard worker. He committed himself and had the state record in mind for a couple of years.”
Walker jumped over 15 feet last season as a junior. His teammate, Trent James, went higher than him and provided some good healthy competition and set his mind to attaining his goal.
“I think he saw what he could do and knew he had this year to train to reach the state record. He has worked his butt off,” Pierce said.
Pole vault has only been a track scoring event for girls and boys in smaller classifications for five years. Some schools did not even own the equipment until recently.
“I was in the same boat as most of these kids,” Pierce said of his high school track days. “I recruited a buddy to help me and have figured it out. Since then, I have traveled all over the country and have learned to be a better coach. The pole vault world is pretty tight nit. We help each other and want to see the sport grow.”
Pole vault technique and training can be very specific.
“It can be a fun sport that you can come and do just in the spring season, but to be like a Robbie Walker you need to put in the time. They are the ones that get the higher marks. We have athletes of all skills and ages,” Pierce said. “Gymnasts make great jumpers, speed strength and agility are important. A good pole vaulter will be one of the best athletes on the track. He may not be the fastest, but one of. They need to be strong and jump well.”
As Walker approached the platform to attempt the state record a hush fell over those around the stadium watching him. His arms cleared the bar and a cheer erupted.
“This is a pole vault community,” Pierce said. “There are no boundaries. They love the pole vault and love other pole vaulters. It doesn’t matter what school you are from. Him breaking the record was cool. A good high school vaulter is somewhere in the 14 foot range. Robbie is an exception.”
Walker is not the only athlete with high hopes at the state meet.
Herriman thrower Blake Freeland currently stands in the top 10 best performances in the state in three events; shot put, discus and javelin. He could contend for championships in all three events. The Mustangs also have high hopes for their boys relay team in the 4x100 and 4x400 meters. Dave Newman could also contend in the 110m hurdles
The lady Mustangs could have several top performers. Cassidy Henderson in 100 and 200m along with Kayla Butterfield in 110 hurdles and Make Tufa in the shot.
The Mustangs captured both the boys and girls region track championships. Riverton finished third in boys and second in girls.
Silverwolves runners Tanner Rogers and Joey Nokes have posted top times in the 3200 this season. Ty Davis ran the fastest 1600 at the region championships.
The Utah State track meet is scheduled to be held May 16-18 at BYU (after press deadline).
The Pole Vault Association is open year round and encourages youth to participate. Its indoor facility in Riverton even hosted a pole vault event this spring when the weather rained out a weekend track meet.
“We have 40-50 kids that participate with us regularly,” Pierce said. “It depends on the time of year. We have several schools that do not have a pole vault coach. We want to help all the kids that need it.”