Hastings vaulters could compete nationally
Two Hastings pole vaulters could be competing in San Diego, Calif., next year in the State Games of America track and field meet.
Brett Stricker and Trevor Lucking, both high school seniors next year, qualified for the meet through their performances at the Star of the North Games in Rochester June 19-27.
Lucking finished first in his age group and Stricker finished second in the ages 17 and 18 group.
"It was kind of a bad day, but I still managed to make 11 feet," Stricker said.
Lucking vaulted 12-06. His jump was "alright," he said. "A little slow."
The Star of the North Games are one of 31 national State Games held by the National Congress of State Games. The games are Olympic-style events for athletes of all ages and skill levels. Medal-winners from the State Games go on to compete in the State Games of America, a biennial, national event.
"I didn't even know about (the games) until I was told I qualified for it," Stricker said. "But right away I was super excited. You never expect that you could go to San Diego."
Lucking started pole vaulting as a freshman after his science teacher (then the head track and field coach) strongly encouraged him to join. He had enough fun his first year to make him stick around.
Besides advancing to the State Games of America, in which Lucking says he's planning on competing, he also advanced to the Region 8 Junior Olympics last weekend in Indianola, Iowa. He jumped 13 feet - his personal best - at the Minnesota Junior Olympics event in Eagan June 19 to qualify for the event.
At the regional event, however, he wasn't able to keep it up. The bar started at 12 feet, but Lucking wasn't able to make a clean jump and wasn't able to post a height.
"My plant was off," he said. "It was bad."
Lucking said he was able to make the height at the qualifying round because he didn't stop jumping when school got out.
"After track season ended I kept going out," he said.
He spends about eight hours each week working on his pole vaulting skills, and plans to continue working through the summer.
"I would really like to get 13-6 before the summer's over," he said.
A senior this year, Lucking said he might pursue pole vaulting in college if he does well this year. He doesn't know where he wants to go yet, but would like to study business.
Stricker started pole vaulting as a freshman in high school. The track coach suggested he join track, and as he already had an interest in pole vaulting, he gave it a shot.
"I'm kind of an adrenaline junky," he said, "and I'm not scared of heights."
He's set some lofty goals for himself, and he's devoted to reaching them.
"I want to get on the honor roll for the track team," he said. Also, "I would like to pole vault in college, hopefully, and I would like to hopefully get up to around 14 feet."
To get there, he's spending a good chunk of his summer training. He spends more than 10 hours a week practicing his jumps and trying new techniques he can use to improve.
"I haven't reached my peak," Stricker said.
For college, Stricker is eyeing the University of North Dakota - specifically for its pole vaulting program. That could be his top choice, should he manage to make his 13- to 14-foot mark, he said.
Stricker isn't sure yet if he'll compete in San Diego.
"It all depends on how this year goes," he said.
If he can make his 14-foot jump, he's likely to go, he said, but it's still a long way off.