The 6-foot-4 senior trackman is rated third in the Pennsylvania Indoor Pole Vault Rankings. He has a half-dozen consecutive first-place finishes in the TFCA of GP Indoor series and set a new TFCA of GP Indoor Last Chance meet record at 14-8. He qualified for the TFCA of GP Meet of Champions and the Pennsylvania Indoor High School State Championship. He also runs the 4×400, 300-meter hurdles, long jumps and is a captain during his outdoor track season in the spring.
Q: Does your pole vault strategy change at all, vaulting indoors versus vaulting outdoors?
A: My strategy does change a little depending on indoor and outdoor. Outdoors you have to be very aware of the weather. A gust of wind at the wrong time could break me into more pieces than Humpty Dumpty, so you have to be aware. Jumping outdoors you need to pay attention and fine tune your jump if it is warmer vs. colder, raining vs. dry, windy vs. not windy. Any different set of factors can change how high up on the pole I hold, which pole I use, and how far I run from. On a rainy day, two inches higher on the pole could be the difference between a happy Robby and all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men trying to put me together again. Indoors, the weather is always the same so it is more “business as usual.”
Q: What (in your opinion) has been your best indoor pole vault to date this season? What do you think was the key to your performance that day?
A: I think so far this season the best jump I had was at the Ocean Breeze invitational in Staten Island. It was not the highest bar I have ever jumped over, only 14-6, but I was about a foot over it. If only the bar was set higher I would be No. 1 in the state right now but that’s how the sport goes. That day I think the key was the energy in the building. All the other vaulters were cheering me on and the stands were packed so it hyped me up.
Q: You set a new TFCA of GP Indoor Last Chance meet record at 14-8 this winter. What was your most vivid memory of that vault, and what do you think was the key to your performance?
A: I had no idea I set the meet record until they announced it over the loudspeaker. I was just treating it like any other jump. I wanted to get to 15-1 to set a new personal record so 14-8 was just another step along the way. Once I found out I was like, “Oh, that’s cool I guess, I don’t have one of those yet.” Then I chuckled cause I was talking to myself and I was getting weird looks.
Q: What originally attracted you to the pole vault event? What (in your view) are the most important attributes of a good pole vaulter? What aspect of your pole vaulting are you currently working on the most?
A: I was a hockey player from third grade until ninth grade, when I suffered a bad concussion and the doctor told me that was it for me and contact sports. At that moment I thought to myself, ‘Well, what is the most dangerous most physical non-contact sport I can find?” Pole vaulting seemed like a good choice. I had seen some seniors at the time practice it after school so I decided to give it a try. 2 1/2 years later here I am. In my opinion the best pole vaulters are goofy, laid back and do not take much too seriously. We need to be a little “off” in order to hurl ourselves high into the air hoping we hit the pad. Besides that it helps if you have good body control – ex-gymnasts make really good pole vaulters because essentially the pole vault is a gymnastics routine on steroids. Right now I am working the most on body awareness, being 6-4 I have a lot of long limbs I need to keep track of when I am vaulting.
Q: Briefly describe for us your pre-vault preparation (physical, mental) on the day of an indoor pole vault event.
A: My pre-meet preparation starts the night before. I get crazy superstitious. I normally eat junk food and stay up really late because the one time that I ate healthy and went to bed early before a meet I came in last place. Ever since then I have done the opposite and it has worked out well for me. The day of a meet I always listen to a podcast on the drive to the meet and about 15 minutes before I start warming up I listen to really loud dub step music and get hyped. For me it is all the mental game – if I think I am going to do well and I have confidence, I normally will do very well, but if I get in my head at all that is the end for me. I do not worry about the physical aspect very much. I train hard every day so come meet time I know my body will be ready to perform.