Most athletes get drawn to the speed events in high school track and field.
Very few ask their folks if they can get a pole vault for Christmas, but Kendel Rogers of the VSS Panthers has a blast in the rather unique sport where one uses a long, flexible pole made of either fibreglass or carbon fibre as an aid to jump over a bar.
Pole jumping competitions were known to the ancient Greeks, Cretans and Celts and have been a full medal event at the Olympic Games since 1896 for men and 2000 for women.
Just for the record, a number of elite pole vaulters have had backgrounds in gymnastics, including world-record breakers Yelena Isinbayeva and Brian Sternberg.
Rogers, who turns 18 in August, first tried pole vaulting at age 13 while living in Prince George.
“I saw it on TV in the Olympics and thought it was fun,” said the Grade 12 student, who struck senior girls silver in last week’s B.C. High School Track & Field Championships in Langley. “I went to a summer seminar and I was hooked.”
Rogers posted a personal best vault of 2.85 metres at provincials, finishing behind Kamloops Track & Field Club teammate Bryn Walsh of the Kelowna Owls (2.95m). Macey Michaud of the Earl Marriott Mariners of Surrey took bronze at 2.85m.
Rogers made numerous trips to Kamloops this season for coaching from Shane Wiebe, a former national-level decathlete who has coached CIS-level champions and medalists and was a part of the Canadian coaching staff at the 2001 World University Games in Beijing, China.
“My mom (Linda) and dad (Dan) and I took turns driving,” said Kendel, who also excels at volleyball. “I hope to attend OC (Okanagan College) this fall and keep going to Kamloops for training.”
Meanwhile, Megan Loland of the Seaton Sonics secured a silver in the senior girls 400 hurdles in 1:06.94, while finishing fifth in the 400-metre run in 59.64.
Annika Ariano of the Sonics captured a bronze medal in the senior girls 3,000 in 10:05.49, while Carter Leahy of VSS collected bronze in the Grade 8 boys 3,000 in 9:44.26 and Ashton Takhar of the Fulton Maroons was third in the Grade 8 boys 800 in 2:14.80.
Jaeda Ostoforoff of the Pleasant Valley Saints in Armstrong finished fourth in the senior girls 200 in 26.20 and fifth in the 100 in 12.97.