Christian Compton, an incoming freshman at Derby High School, has qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympics Track and Field Championship after placing first in regional competition.
Compton, 14, vaulted 10 feet 6 inches at regionals in Lawrence this past Saturday, and will compete in the National Junior Olympics in Baltimore, Md. later this month.
“We were pleasantly surprised. We weren’t really sure what the competition was going to be like,” said Carl Compton, Christian’s father and track coach at St. Mary Parish School. “It was very hot that day, and I think it affected a lot of the athletes.”
Christian began pole vaulting as a seventh grader at St. Mary Parish School. Even though Christian has only been pole vaulting for two years, he’s placed high in several competitions.
Christian set the Wichita Diocese Catholic Schools Activity League record this spring as an eighth grader at St. Mary with a vault of 10 feet. He took first in the middle school division in the River Vault at the Wichita River Festival in June with a vault of 10 feet 6 inches.
He qualified for the Junior Olympic regional competition after vaulting a career-best 11 feet 6 inches for second place at the Missouri Valley Association Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in June.
Christian’s success caught the eye of Dennis Frazier, who has coached several state championship pole vaulters at Bishop Carroll High School. Frazier started working with Christian and will continue to coach him through the Junior Olympics.
“He’s been the person that got him to where he’s at and continues to teach him as he works toward the nationals,” Carl said.
Christian has also worked out with coaches and pole vaulters at DHS, where he will compete as a freshman next spring.
One of Christian’s best vaulting traits is his ability to identify if he’s doing something wrong and correct his form, even if his coach isn’t present. Many vaulters were without coaches at regionals, giving Christian a slight advantage, Carl said.
“He’s a good enough student of the sport to know when he’s doing something wrong and how to correct it without having a coach there to tell him what he needs to work on,” he said.
Being a parent and coach has made Christian’s early accomplishments in pole vaulting special for Carl and his wife Suzie. With the right equipment and coaching, Carl won’t put a cap on what he thinks his son can accomplish on the pole vaulting mat.
“We’re obviously proud of his accomplishments,” Carl said. “I think it’s great to see him be able to focus on something like that at his age.”