Pole vaulter launches his way onto the track team
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Nick Collins stands in line, and a certain calmness takes over him. He smiles at the people around him but still manages to keep his focus. He steps up to the line and begins to run with the pole. After counting exactly ten paces, he jumps. He flies 12 feet up into the air, soaring over the bar — a personal best.
Collins, who is a junior, came to the high school this year from Winnetka, Illinois where he learned to pole vault. Although the high school does not offer pole vault as an event, he is still part of the track and field team. He practices pole vault at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and competes individually at invitationals across the state.
Collins said that when he first started participating in track his coaches recognized his strong jumping ability and therefore thought he would be a good pole vaulter.
“I had run track freshmen year and I mainly did jumping: high jump and long jump. My coach suggested that, since I was good at jumping, I should try out pole vault because it’s a lot of jumping up and swinging yourself. I decided to try it out and then I did well my first meet. I decided to keep with it,” Collins said.
According to junior Benji Bromberg, Collins competes in other events for the track team during their meets.
“In our normal meets he does high jump and last meet he was interested in trying shot put,” Bromberg said.
Junior Shahar Hartman said that Collins is very devoted to the high school track team despite the fact that he cannot regularly compete in his favorite event.
“He comes to our practices, which are two and a half hours Monday through Saturday, and our meets, which are four hours every Thursday. He will also go to his own meets for pole vaulting, they are weekends and other days of the week, ” Hartman said.
According to Bromberg, Collins’ training routine on the high school team is just like several of the other athletes’.
“He is typically running with the team and doing everything the team does. We split the team into the sprinters and the distance runners, he is with the sprinters. Recently, since his shins have been acting up, he’s been throwing shot put with the throwers,” Bromberg said.
According to Collins, a typical pole vaulting practice includes going to Harvard or MIT, completing a warm up, and then working on his vaulting technique.
“I warm up. I run and stretch out and I usually start with a three step, which is six total steps, but we count by our left foot hitting the ground. I do three of those, that is usually the short approach. I do that to work on going upside down when I jump and then I go back to a five step. The further you go back, the more velocity you have going towards the pole, which gets you higher, so I usually go back to that after like half an hour and then I just run repeatedly and try to work on getting my arms up and bending the pole,” Collins said.
Bromberg said that in addition to Collins’ athletic talent, he also boosts the team spirit.
“Our team doesn’t have the greatest morale. We are pretty supportive, but we don’t do spirit. He’s been trying to boost the team morale and get more people to join track,” Bromberg said.
“He’s pretty unique in a sense that he is very good at what he does. He’s the best vaulter in recent time out of the school because we haven’t had any and in practice he’s doing very well,” Bromberg said.