Logan Cunningham has made it a point to reach great heights since taking up pole vaulting.
That was his game plan during his high school career at Smithson Valley and it has carried over to his time at Texas State.
After finishing fourth at the NCAA Meet a year ago, the junior has sky-rocketed higher this season. During the indoor season, Cunningham qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials (June 21-27 in Eugene, Ore.), and broke a 20-year-old school record after clearing 18-1 at the University of Arkansas‘ Tyson Meet. At the recent Southland Conference Meet, Cunningham broke that record with a winning vault of 18-1 ¾, which ranks third nationally going into this week’s Regional Meet in Austin.
Still, the big highlight is making it to the Trials.
“I thought I might have qualified at the meet, but I wasn’t sure,” said Cunningham, who also qualified for the NCAA Indoor Meet that same day. “The next day I looked at the rankings and saw I was in. That’s been my goal and to finally meet that is awesome. It’s a blessing.”
Even though Cunningham is happy with that he has accomplished, there’s a chance to do more. Currently, his attention is focused on getting his first national title during this week’s NCAA Championships at Des Moines, Iowa.
Because of last year’s showing at the NCAA Meet, Cunningham knows what to expect and brings more confidence. That was evident during the indoor season, which included an eighth place finish at nationals.
He was hoping for a better showing, but it was still a positive beginning.
“I felt I could have done better at regionals, but I can’t complain,” said Cunningham, who qualified with a fourth-place finish at the recent regional meet in Austin. “Most of the vaulters I went against have indoor facilities. They were used to it. I still felt it was a good way to begin.
“Having the third best jump gives me a lot of confidence going into regionals, nationals and the trials. I was really glad to get that 18-0 level twice. I think I’ve started peaking at the right time. I want to carry it through the big meets that are coming. I want to keep going higher and higher.”
Cunningham has all the main ingredients to follow that plan. Mainly, it boils down to being passionate about his craft.
That hasn’t changed since high school. Only now, it’s at a higher level, especially with so much more at stake.
“You have to love it,” Cunningham said. “If you stick with it and work as hard as you can, the results will show. I give the glory to God. I’m thankful for what I have, because not many people get to do this.”
Cunningham credits his coaching for his progress. During high school, the Texas State vaulter hooked up with Glenn Dickson and his daughter Brookelyn Dickson, who is his current college coach.
Their philosophy and approach has been a plus since day one.
“The coaching is awesome,” Cunningham said. “They’re so positive and really want us to succeed. I’m stronger and faster. My approach is so much better. I’ve been working on the same things I did in high school. They have me prepared. It’s great to have coaches like that.”
Brookelyn Dickson has enjoyed watching Cunningham excel. She knew he had the talent to succeed when arriving at Texas State. The clincher was how he adjusted to the college scene.
Vaulting at the college level is a different challenge, but Cunningham has passed the test.
“Logan’s continued to perform under pressure,” Dickson said. “After getting to newer heights his maturity has showed. He came in with some swag this year. He’s stayed on that cloud.
“Logan’s jumping is a direct reflection of his lifestyle on and off the track. He always stays motivated and dedicated to what he is doing with his goal in mind. We told him a long time ago to put 2012 (Trials) on his calendar to have it as a goal. For him to make it is a dream come true.”
By Pat Turner