So, you want to be an all-state thinclad?
Well, it takes talent, and lots and lots of hard work.
Of the four All-Ohio honorees at this past weekend's OHSAA State Track and Field Championship at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University, two were pole vaulters - Marietta High's school record holder Paige Grosel (11 feet, 4 inches) and Fort Frye's Derek Spindler (13-6).
The other two were Emma Ryan of Warren in the discus and Dakota Hoffman of Belpre in the long jump.
Thing is, pole vaulting is not an easy event, not by a long shot. But it sure seems like there's a lot of good vaulters in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Marietta's Will Cogswell and Warren's Cole Wigal each was a place or two shy from qualifying for state in the event at regional.
But both will be back next spring for another go at it.
This past season, Cogswell, who is from a family of pole vaulters, set an MHS record (14-3) in the event.
Over in West Virginia at last month's state meet at Charleston's Laidley Field, Lincoln Postlewaite won her second straight pole vault championship in 10-6, a meet record. Her Lady Yellowjacket teammates' Liz Flowers - a state champ as a sophomore - and Kenzie Smith were third and fourth, respectively, in the event.
On the boys side, Williamstown's Alex Marchetti was runner-up in 13-6 while Mitch Goertler placed fourth in 12-6.
Really, is there something in the valley's water supply that makes all of these student/athletes such competitive vaulters?
Well...no, but it is great coaching and dedicated track and field athletes.
In fact, in the wake of the state track meet in the Buckeye State, there's a pole vault camp at Williamstown High Thursday and Friday. It's called "Gravity Is a Myth Pole Vault Camp," and it's run by longtime PV guru and coach Doak Markley. If interested, phone the coach at (304) 375-5959, or email him at email@example.com.
Markley seems to help churn out top-notched pole vaulters year-in and year-out in the area every spring.
Just ask Grosel, Spindler, and many, many others who have attended his camp.
"Our vaulters get a lot of help from Doak Markley, the Williamstown coach," said Fort Frye track and field coach Bobbi Webb. "They go to his camp every summer, which is a great pole vault camp."
Markley isn't the only one, either.
Before state qualifiers' Stephanie Huck and Spindler went to the state meet in Columbus last Thursday, the two Fort Frye pole vaulters practiced during the earlier part of the week at Warren High. Their coach was Pat Wigal.
"Pat Wigal who coaches at Warren and works with their pole vaulters has given up a lot of his free time," Webb said. "He works with our pole vaulters and deserves a lot of credit."
Wigal incidentally pole vaulted as a prep athlete at Belpre High.
Grosel started pole vaulting when she was in middle school, Marietta High track and field coach Mollie Schramm said.
"Eric Parsons was her coach then," Schramm said.
While Parsons is no longer a middle school coach, Grosel got better by going to camps in Williamstown and West Virginia University. She's received guidance from several people, including Ron Kidder.
Kidder, currently the MHS volleyball coach, was a pole vaulter during his prep days as a Tiger athlete.
"Ron worked with Paige last year and went to state with her," Schramm said.
Grosel will be attending The Ohio State University at the end of the summer and may walk on the Buckeye track and field team, while Spindler is planning to go to Findlay College to continue his education and pole vaulting.
Who knows, maybe even better days in the pole vault event may be ahead for the two All-Ohio honorees.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org