SAN MARCOS, Texas – Texas State senior pole vaulter Logan Cunningham will represent the Bobcats at the NCAA National Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. This marks his third appearance at nationals and the two-time All-American could be in line to do it again.
Cunningham seems to be hitting his peak at the right time for the national indoor meet. He just broke the Western Athletic Conference’s Indoor Championship record of 5.50 meters with a jump of 5.53 meters to win gold at the WAC Indoor Championships.
At the time Cunningham made his historic jump at the WAC Championships, his height placed him sixth in the nation. Since Feb. 21, however, Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts and Jake Blankenship beat his height, dropping Cunningham to an eighth place tie. The top eight finishers in this weekend’s championships will earn First Team All-American honors.
Cunningham is no stranger to the limelight. He finished eighth last season, but he feels even stronger and faster in 2013.
“It’s like night and day from last season,” said Cunningham. “I know what to expect. I know what the competition is going to be like. It could be anyone’s day. I’m definitely prepared to be more mentally focused and on point for the day.”
His 5.53-meter jump matches his lifetime best, a jump he made at the 2012 Southland Conference Outdoor Championships. But his goals are set higher for Arkansas.
“I want to set a personal record. I want to hit a height I’ve never done before,” he said. “It’s an awesome track there, and it’s really a great opportunity for me.”
Cunningham recognizes the great personal opportunity he has, but it’s also an outstanding opportunity for Texas State.
“Logan has been a big part of this program. He’s been to nationals several times for us and it’s always good to have a national presence,” said Head Coach Dana Boone.
“Him going is a big deal for us. He definitely has an opportunity to score and come home as an All-American. He could bring home some hardware, which is an awesome opportunity. It means a lot to our program, and we’re thankful that we have him.”
If he is going to place high, he will have to beat out some serious talent this season. Last year, Cunningham went in to the meet ranked higher, but with a lower height.
Cunningham is one of the many over 18 feet. His most recent jump, a height of 5.53 meters was 18 feet 1.75-inches. Currently, Whitt’s most recent jump is the top height in the nation at 18 feet 4.75 inches.
“This will be his toughest year,” said Herston. “But he’s feeling good and he’s ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Cunningham isn’t distracted by heights or competition. His goal is simple.
“Honestly, I just want to do the best I can,” he said. “Of course I want to win it, but I’ve gone in with just that as my focus before. I feel the best way to approach it is to go in there and do the best I can.”
In preparation, Cunningham has been working extensively with Herston and former Texas State pole vaulter and current volunteer assistant coach Brookelyn Dickson. Both coaches have confidence in the senior from Smithson Valley.
“He’s been growing,” Dickson said of Cunningham. “Some athletes come in and never set personal records at the collegiate level. They come in and just hope to maintain, but he’s gotten stronger and faster. The new staff has brought in a new training program and it’s showing in his vault.
“Technically, he’s learned and figured things out so now it’s time to put that together with the new strength and speed,” she said. “I’m very pleased with how he looks headed into the meet.”
Cunningham will compete with the best in the nation at 5:30 p.m. Friday.