Vicki Pellicciotti, pole vault coach at South Carroll High School, said she has her athletes execute handstands against the wall to gauge whether they’re afraid to be upside down while holding up their body weight.

Peyton Thomas was timid with the exercise at first, Pellicciotti said. After all, the freshman was new to pole vaulting.

“The first day I had him we asked the kids who wanted to try pole vault and he came over and said he wanted to try it,” Pellicciotti said. “He was very humble and quiet and I had no idea what was going to happen once I started training him.”

Thomas, an incoming sophomore, competed in three meets this past indoor track season. Two of the three were championship meets — the junior varsity county meet, and the Class 2A West meet. He cleared 9 feet, 6 inches at counties, good for a personal record height, and took second.

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