Failure isn’t a word Tyler Porter is very familiar with. It doesn’t coincide with anything he has done in his pole vaulting career. After breaking his back three years ago, the former Jefferson High School pole vaulter was told by doctors that he wouldn’t be able to compete at a high level. Now, Porter is in contention for an NCAA Outdoor title for the University of Tennessee.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I was ranked 12th and top 12 get to go. Now that I made it, there is a lot of pressure on my shoulder,” said Porter.
Porter approached the healing process with a positive attitude and wasn’t going to let that injury sideline him for the rest of his career. Porter red-shirted his sophomore year and said the time away from the track paid off well.
“A lot of how I got through my injury was how I dealt with it. Also I have to give credit to the trainers because I couldn’t have done it without them. They pushed me a lot to get better,” Porter said.
Porter will be joined by teammates Jake Blankenship and Chase Brannon. Porter said going to Eugene, Ore., with his teammates makes competing their even more exciting.
“It’s really kind of cool. We are all pretty much brothers. We all expected each other to go,” Porter said.
The meet is being staged at one of the biggest track and field sites known as TrackTown USA. It has been the host of the Olympic trials and Porter knew of that growing up. He said he knew he wanted to be there but had to put his career on hold yet again after suffering another injury.
“[A while back] I had two hernias and I didn’t know if I was going to compete or not. I didn’t jump that well. I just wanted to prepare and get ready for next season. I had surgery and spent the summer training to get better,” stated Porter.
Now, Porter has a new lease on his pole vaulting career. But, he will be challenged as the competition he’s up against will be extremely tight. Sam Kendricks of the University of Mississippi currently leads the nation in the pole vault as he cleared 19 feet earlier this season.
Porter is going into the meet as somewhat of an underdog by says he isn’t apprehensive. He sees this as an opportunity to defy the odds.
“I’ve never been to Eugene. I’ve seen the track on TV and on track videos. It’s like a dream come true because it’s so far away and a lot of professionals have been there,” said Porter.
He may not be clearing 19 feet now but all that could change once he soaks in the environment.
“In practice, we focus on technique. Once you get to the meet, your adrenaline gets pumping which makes your technique solid,” Porter said. “I just want to have fun and jump high.”