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Article about Armstrong Vaulters

Started by Chris, March 29, 2006, 04:27:31 PM

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This is in today's Star Tribune West Metro section.

Armstrong vaulters hope to remain class of the sport

Brian Stensaas, Star Tribune

Again this year, Falcons pole vaulters are setting high goals. A pair of boys' veterans and a girls' champion lead the way.

Robbinsdale Armstrong senior Brandon Johnson glanced at a clock in the school's secondary gym on a recent afternoon. The time was 5:45.

"This is an early night for us," he said. "We're in here practicing a lot."

This season, Johnson and the rest of the Falcons' pole vaulting team will spend a lot of time in the dimly lit space.

Improvements being made this spring to the high school's stadium field will prevent the Falcons from practicing outside.

Indoors or out, though, it shouldn't matter. In recent history, the Falcons have proven that they are the ones to beat when it comes to pole vaulting.

Last season, Johnson, fellow senior Ross Werner and the now-graduated Derek Oslund all represented the Falcons at the boys' Class AA meet. In addition, senior Alicia Rue made it to state in girls' Class AA, setting a state record with a jump of 12 feet, 9 inches.

"I think the main thing is that they've all seen what it's like to be at the top, so they're willing to do what it takes to get there," Armstrong pole vaulting coach Chris Milton said. "These kids are all smart, and all good, hard workers."

The three returning from last year's state meet all began pole vaulting as freshmen. Werner and Rue said they decided to give it a try after hearing about it from friends. Johnson, meanwhile, got into the sport for two reasons: His sister was a state pole vaulter, and he had a gymnastics background.

"A lot of what we do up there relates to gymnastics," he said. "We're comfortable being upside down high up in the air."

The three have gotten progressively better over the past three years. And they have set some high goals for their senior seasons.

Johnson and Werner said they want to eclipse 16 feet. The state record is 15-7.

"I want that record," Werner said. "But I'm hoping for 16."

Rue, who has signed a letter of intent to compete for the Gophers, said she is shooting for 13-6.

"It's a challenge," she said. "But I like that. I like tracking my progress."

Milton, who was a high school pole vaulter for Minneapolis Washburn and in college at St. Thomas, is pleased with what he has seen so far.

He said the marks his vaulters are hitting already in practice are above what they were clearing last season.

And it's that way with young talent, too.

Eighth-grader Patrick Hayden has already cleared 9 feet this spring. The freshman record at Armstrong is 11-6.

"The kids are ready," Milton said. "If they can do what they did last year, or even improve a little, I'll be happy."
Chris Milton
Eden Prairie HS PV Coach


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