One day in sixth grade, Chris Charles asked his track and field coach if he could try the pole vault for fun.

Since then Charles has won two high school state championships at Christ Presbyterian Academy, and beginning in the fall he will be a pole vaulter and decathlete at Army.

But he still has some unfinished business at the state meet in five weeks. After winning the Class A/AA pole vault as a freshman and sophomore at 13 feet, 6 inches, Charles no-heighted last year.

“My junior year was definitely my most successful season overall, even though state didn’t go my way,” Charles said. “At sectionals to qualify for state, I jumped 15-5, and then at state I no-heighted. We had a delay in the meet, and I came out and my legs were cold. It just wasn’t my day.

“I think this year I’m getting it back and getting close to 15s again. No-heighting at state last year has motivated me to work harder this year. Hopefully I can turn it around and I can win state again and maybe jump a state record (over 15-11).”

Charles has already recorded an indoor jump of 14-6 this season.

When Charles was just starting out, he was inspired by older CPA vaulters, such as two-time state champion Ryan Cook, who is now competing at Samford.

“It was first in sixth grade and I was just trying everything, and I hadn’t really decided what I liked,” Charles said. “(Cook) was a sophomore and he won state that year, and it was really cool to see him and his success.

“There has always kind of been a legacy at CPA for vault (state champions from 2007-2011). Every year we’ve had a couple of good vaulters, and watching them vault when I was young motivated me.”

Charles said he really started to improve in the eighth grade under the influence of Cook.

Charles finished fourth as an eighth-grader with a height of 11-6, and Cook won at 15-0.

That spring he began working with Brandon Grass, who also trained Cook, at Axis Athletics, a track club team based in Middle Tennessee.

Grass said that in the fall of his freshman year, Charles asked him if he could start competing in the decathlon.

“We taught him how to do all of the other events, and he has been practicing all 10 events since the fall of his freshman year,” Grass said. “(Charles) is one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever worked with.

“He’s seen his ups and downs, but he’s worked through all of them, and he’s had a great attitude through all of them.”

Charles’ best finish in the state decathlon is fifth.


Charles Vaulter Magazine
Charles Vaulter Magazine

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  • Axis Athletics

    May 29, 2013 - 7:51 am

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