Pole vault may be Charles Fenner’s meal ticket to state meet hardward.
But the Metamora senior is far from a one-trick pony.
Just ask 39-year Redbirds coach Chuck Danner.
“In all the years I’ve been coaching, there hasn’t been a person that could do as many events,” Danner said.
Fenner took up the hurdles last year as a junior — and has excelled. A former standout in the open 400, Fenner has been running mostly this year in the 4×100, 4×400 and 300 hurdles to go along with the vault.
“We were talking the other day, you could take him out of those four events and put him in four different events and he’d be just as good in those,” Danner added. “He’s had a great year and probably one of the top track athletes we’ve had.”
Fenner, a state qualifier in all four events, will put that versatility on display Tuesday at the Journal Star/CEFCU Honor Roll Meet at East Side Centre in East Peoria. Gates open at 3 p.m.
Fenner is top seeded in the pole vault and the 300 hurdles. The Redbirds are No. 1 in the 4×400 — Fenner is not expected to compete — and fourth in the 4×100.
Danner doesn’t mind going on about Fenner’s positive qualities.
“He’s tenacious,” the Redbirds coach said. “He doesn’t like to lose. He’s very coachable, good leader. All the clicks. He’s like a walking click for goodness.”
Fenner picked up the pole vault in seventh grade, on a whim.
“I just thought it looked cool,” said the Illinois State recruit, who gave it a shot and fell in love with the event. “It was definitely awkward at first, but one meet it just clicked for me … the top part clicked for me and that’s when it really took off.”
Constant work met opportunity Friday when Fenner realized a season-long goal. He set the Metamora school record with a vault of 15 feet, 3 inches at the Class 2A Dunlap Sectional. That mark puts him tied for the top seed at state, along with Andrew Roney of Mahomet-Seymour and Jon Walsh of Woodstock North.
Fenner also broke the school record in the 300 hurdles (39.1 seconds) at sectional, making him the eighth seed at state, and was part of a 4×400 relay that lowered the school standard for the fifth time this season (to 3:24.0).
Like many of the boys competing Tuesday, the HRM will act as a glorified practice and ultimate state tune-up for the Redbirds standout.
“You can’t simulate the sense of competition in a practice, even if you do put the bar up,” Fenner said. “You can only get that from a meet, so it’s nice to work with an actual bar and then it’s nice to have competition in the running events.”
By STAN MORRIS