Wildcat pole vaulters keep going strong

EVART — Pole vaulters have been scoring some key points in recent weeks for Evart's track team as the Wildcats celebrate their first-place effort in one state meet and go to another this Saturday.

Ricky Miller has led the way for the Evart pole vaulters but he's had company on his team including from Chapman Long, a junior.

They were fourth and fifth respectively in the Highland Conference meet last week.

It's Long's first season of vaulting.

“I used to be a long jumper,” he said. “One day, Rick, said 'come over and try this just once. If you don't like it, you can go back to long jumping.' I jumped higher than our second pole vaulter. I had no experience at all.”

The Evart coaches then decided that Long would be a full-time pole vaulter. He vaulted 12-0 in the Highland meet for a personal record. His clearance of 11-8 in the pole vault qualified him for the MHSAA state meet this Saturday at Jenison.

“I think it was earned. I don't know if it was a pleasant surprise because I was getting 11-6 prior to that meet,” he said. “I had to work hard. I wasn't as experienced as everyone else.”

Evart won the state MITCA meet last Saturday at Gobles. Long and the Wildcats now gear up for the state meet.

“I hope to place, let's say that,” Long said, adding that he's looking at a vault of 12-0 or 12-6 and the key for success is form, for sure. “There's nothing better than the pole vault.”

Both he and Miller focus mainly on the pole vault.

Evart won the Highland Conference meet and took second in the league. The Wildcats were first in the regionals and at the MITCA state meet.

“Our team, coaches can harp on you to work hard but our team takes it personnel,” Long said. “Each and everyone of us works hard at what we're good at. We take it and we run with it. We work extremely hard. We have talent. We don't take any team lightly. Our long distance runners are phenomenal.”